A Comprehensive Walkthrough of Understanding the Mechanics of Implant-Retained Dentures

implant-retained dentures

The ideal denture should feel so natural you forget it’s there. It becomes a part of your body, as natural and reliable as your own teeth once were.

Do you find yourself frequently repositioning your dentures, resorting to methods like biting and swallowing to keep them in place? Or are you simply looking for dentures that are as stable as dental implants? If so, this blog is for you.

Traditional dentures that rely on suction or adhesive for stability can be quite shifty. As in cases of bone loss, they may slip and slide inside your mouth, causing discomfort. Common complaints include gagging, difficulty eating, and speech problems.

Fortunately, there is a solution. 

What are Implant-retained dentures? 

You may have heard of them as “clip-on-dentures” or “snap-on-dentures”. Combine the elements of complex dental implants with a more readily available adhesive combination (similar to the conventional dentures) and you get a dental replacement that’s both secure and cost-effective. 

Implant-retained dentures fall under the broader category of overdentures. They are a trail-blazing solution for missing teeth, offering a secure and natural-feeling replacement. They are kept in your mouth using a small number of mini-implants (often 2-4), that fit inside your jawbone to secure the dental base. With these, you can eat and speak more easily without the dentures uncomfortably shifting inside your mouth. These dentures are like permanent teeth but can be removed for cleaning and maintenance if required.

These dentures shouldn’t be confused with implant-supported dentures, which is a close relative. The key difference between the two is that the supported dentures use a greater number of implants (4 or more) and derive the majority of their support directly from the implants.

To further elaborate on their differences, we’ll take a deep dive into understanding the mechanics of implant-retained dentures.

Dental Implants

Titanium is a strong, lightweight and biocompatible metal, which means it won’t trigger a harmful reaction within your body. This metal will be used to make the mini-implant (or posts). These aren’t shaped like literal posts you’d use for a fence. Instead, they are small, screw-like cylinders designed to embed into your jawbone and have the same function as natural tooth roots.

After being surgically placed in your jawbone, the posts fuse with the bone over time. The titanium surface has intentional microscopic textures and often coatings that allow bone cells to actively attach and grow. This biological process, called osseointegration, goes beyond two things just sticking to each other. Your living jawbone will directly fuse with the surface of the titanium implant, creating an unbreakable foundation for your new teeth.

In the first few weeks after surgery, expect a blood clot around the implant, just like any wound. Don’t worry, though, this is completely normal.

Abutments

Now that the implant has provided us with a solid foundation within the bone, we need an abutment which creates the necessary extension for attaching your denture. Abutments offer structural support and are threaded to screw securely into the top part of the titanium post. This is what creates that firm connection that will handle the forces of chewing and speaking. 

Abutments vary in shape, size and materials. Your dentist will choose the right shape and size according to your particular case. Common choices for the material include titanium for strength and biocompatibility, zirconia for better aesthetics, or for specific needs, custom materials like gold alloy, etc.

The Denture

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for these types of implant dentures. Unlike traditional dentures, which are often prefabricated, dentures designed for implants are custom-made and crafted for your unique case. Factors like the shape of your gum line and the natural, specific color of your teeth (natural teeth aren’t fully white!) will influence the result. Technicians will use special acrylics to mimic the natural shade variations of your gums, and the shape of the denture base will be designed to follow the curves of your gum line. The goal is to mimic your natural, original smile!

Types of Implant-Retained Dentures

The dentist will pick the right denture type for you – usually either the bar-retained type or a ball-retained type.

Think of the bar-retained denture as a spine or backbone. A slender, curved metal bar nestled along your jawline which is also usually made of titanium. This is securely fastened to your implants using hidden metal clasps on your denture that snap firmly onto the bar with a satisfying ‘click’. This offers a bit more stability than its counterpart.

The ball-retained denture, in contrast, is like your shoulder joints. Tiny, ball-shaped abutments mate with corresponding sockets molded into the denture base making a kind of ball-and-socket joint which allows for a slight, controlled movement within a specific range.

Benefits of the Implant-Retained Denture

Implant-retained dentures eliminate the instability and discomfort of traditional dentures. Their secure fit allows you to eat and speak with confidence, restoring the teeth you once had. The dental implants even help preserve your jawbone density, preventing the bone loss that’s commonly associated with missing teeth. These are meticulously designed by our dentists to blend immaculately with your smile’s individual characteristics. Also, for peak hygiene and longevity, they can also be easily removed for cleaning and maintenance.

Summary of the process

The first step for a new, state-of-the-art smile begins with a thorough evaluation by a dentist. They will assess bone density and gum health. They will also check whether you are suitable for implant-retained dentures or not. Next up, dental implants are surgically placed into your jawbone. A healing period will ensue. This is essential for the implants to fuse with your bone. Once healed, abutments (structural supports) are attached to provide a link for the new denture. Impressions are then taken to create your distinct, unique denture. It will be crafted to perfectly fit your mouth and equipped with the necessary attachment mechanisms. Your denture is now attached and secured to the implants. You will receive instructions on how to care for your new smile!

Things to Consider

For people with good bone density, implant-retained dentures are perfect, as the implants need a strong bone foundation. However, if you are suffering from significant bone loss, you just might require additional procedures before being a suitable candidate. It is also pertinent to remember that the process takes time; expect several months of healing after the implant surgery. Implant-retained dentures also have a higher initial cost than traditional dentures. But considering that they offer superior stability, longevity, and a more natural overall feel, the benefits justify that cost.

Conclusion

If slipping dentures, awkward adhesives, and compromised confidence sound all too familiar, it’s time to explore a better solution. Implant-retained dentures could be the answer, offering a secure, natural-feeling smile you always had! We understand the importance of making informed decisions about your dental health. To learn if this solution is right for you, schedule a free consultation with a dental implant specialist at Fresno Implant Clinic, a premier clinic located in Fresno, California. Contact us now for a free consultation and rediscover the joy of eating, speaking, and smiling with confidence!

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