If some or all of your teeth are missing or failing, you might worry that you are doomed to a life with dentures. While traditional dentures have a reputation for slipping, pinching, and causing difficulties with chewing, today there is an alternative. Here is what you should know about traditional vs implant supported dentures.
What Are Traditional Dentures?
The earliest dentures were invented around the 7th century BC. By the early 1800s, they were in widespread use, though fairly expensive. By the 20th century, though, rapid technological advances and mass production brought down the costs and dramatically improved both the appearance and the functionality of dentures. Today’s dentures look quite realistic, and a talented dentist can create a comfortable fit that enhances chewing ability. They are an affordable solution that can have good results.
Still, traditional dentures have some inherent limitations. They are supported by your gums, reducing bite force and putting them at risk for slipping. Upper dentures have an acrylic palate that uses suction to adhere to the roof of the mouth, creating better stability. Yet this palate also affects both the taste and the mouthfeel of food.
In addition, denture wearers are at risk for jawbone loss. When a tooth is lost, the body begins to resorb the supporting bone. This resorption process means that dentures must be relined annually, and it can promote wrinkles and premature aging.
What Are Implant Supported Dentures?
Implant supported dentures minimize or eliminate nearly all the limitations of traditional dentures. Instead of resting on the gums, implant supported dentures are anchored on tiny titanium screws that replace the tooth roots in the jawbone. This provides support and stability, and it can even reverse jawbone loss.
Types of Implant Supported Dentures
There are some small differences between manufacturers, but implant supported dentures are available in two basic types, as well as a hybrid. Removable overdentures, known as implant retained dentures, can be removed for cleaning or sleeping. Fixed implant supported dentures, or fixed implant bridges, are permanently anchored in the mouth, and are cleaned and maintained just like natural teeth.
Removable overdentures are the least costly implant supported option. Secured by as few as two dental implants, a removable overdenture uses clasps or other retaining devices to snap securely onto the implants. Since there are so few implants and retaining devices, the cost is only slightly higher than that of traditional dentures, yet the increased bite strength and stability are remarkable.
A mid-range hybrid option uses a metal bar or other frame to lock the implants together, evenly distributing the forces of biting and chewing between them. This solution uses a few more implants than a removable overdenture, making it a bit more expensive. However, it provides the stability needed to chew sticky candy, tough steak, and other foods that are nearly impossible with dentures. This configuration also allows the removal of most or all of the acrylic palate, improving the taste and texture of foods.
The most expensive but most natural solution is a fixed implant bridge. Several implants are placed, and then topped with a high-quality fixed bridge that can replace a full arch of teeth. The teeth are locked onto the implants, making it impossible for anyone but the dentist to remove them. There is no acrylic in your mouth, and you will brush your teeth as normal.
Benefits of Implant Supported Dentures
Whichever type of implant supported dentures you select, you will notice tremendous benefits immediately, including the confidence to speak and laugh in public, improvements to the taste and mouthfeel of your food, enhanced comfort, the ability to eat whatever you like, and the virtual elimination of jawbone loss. Traditional dentures will get the job done, but implant supported dentures will help you truly look and feel your best.