Nickolas S. Maskas DDS, MD
Please refer to the “Implants” section of the website for important information on implants in general as well as implant surgical procedures.
How can implants be used to make dentures more effective?
Implants can be used to help retain and support conventional dentures. Patients may be unhappy with the fit or function of their dentures. Implants can be used to help with these problems, significantly improving the retention (ability of the denture to stay in your mouth), stability, and chewing ability of the dentures. Patients commonly complain about the fit and effectiveness of their lower denture. A lower denture is often displaced easily compared to an upper denture because of the tongue. An upper denture commonly has a good suction onto the palate (roof of mouth) which helps hold the denture in place, making it easier to chew. With the tongue present on the bottom, the lower denture usually does not stay in as well as the upper denture. Often, patients turn to implants to help with this problem.
What are the different options for implant denture configurations?
Lower implant-retained overdenture (2 lower implants): The simplest configuration for an implant denture is to place 2 lower implants near the front of the mouth. The lower denture snaps on to these implants and this helps it stay in the proper position in the mouth. This can be very effective and can greatly increase the patient satisfaction and quality of life. In this configuration, the denture is kept in the mouth by the implants, but the chewing forces are still mainly directed onto the gum tissue behind the implants. With this configuration, you are still able to remove the dentures each day for cleaning.
Lower implant-retained and implant-supported overdenture (4 lower implants): The addition of 2 additional implants (total of 4) in the lower jaw can bring the fit and feel of your dentures even closer to that of natural teeth. With 4 implants, retention of the denture is even higher, providing greater resistance to dislodgement while chewing. Also, the 4 implants will bear the chewing forces instead of the gum tissue on your lower jaw. This simulates the way natural teeth function. With this configuration, you are still able to remove the dentures each day for cleaning.
Upper implant-retained and implant-supported overdenture (4 or more upper implants): If you are going to choose 1 jaw in which to get implants, the lower jaw is usually preferable for reasons previously discussed; however, adding implants to the upper jaw in addition to the lower can provide an even better experience. 2 implants alone is not an option for the upper jaw due to characteristics of the upper jaw bone. 4 implants is the minimum number required for upper denture support. Similarly to implants for the lower denture, implants supporting the upper denture can provide increased retention and stability, which allows for an experience closer to the feel of natural teeth. Having upper implants can sometimes allow for removal of the portion of the denture covering your palate which helps with taste and food enjoyment. With this configuration, you are still able to remove the dentures each day for cleaning.
Upper and lower implant supported and retained “fixed hybrid” dentures (4-6 upper and 4 lower implants): Hybrid dentures deliver the ultimate prosthetic oral rehabilitation, providing you the closest feel to natural teeth of any denture. A hybrid denture is one with a metal frame onto which prosthetic gums and teeth are attached. This metal frame increases the strength of the denture such that the bulkiness of the denture can be decreased and the portion of the upper denture covering the palate can be removed. A hybrid denture is screwed into place and is not removable by the patient, meaning it will never come loose from your mouth. These features improve patient’s ability to taste and chew food as well as decrease denture bulk resulting in a feeling closest to that of natural teeth.
How are implants placed for dentures?
Similarly to implants placed to replace single teeth, an incision is made in the gum tissue, the implant site is prepared with a series of drills, and the implants are placed into the bone to begin the healing process. Dissolvable stitches are placed.
How long after implant placement can the dentures be attached to the implants?
In general, implants require 8 weeks of healing before the dentures can be attached and they can be used. This allows time for your body’s bone to integrate and attach to the implant surface. In some cases, the denture can be attached the same day as the implants are placed (see below).
What is “teeth in a day,” and am I a candidate?
“Teeth in a day” refers to the concept of having your natural teeth extracted, implants placed, and a denture attached to those implants all during the same procedure. Some patients are good candidates for this and some are not. It is my goal to give you a predictable and reliable implant solution, so it is important to realize that not every patient is a good candidate for teeth in a day for a multitude of reasons. I will extensively discuss your options with you at your consultation visit.