What are implant supported dentures?

What are implant supported dentures?
implant supported dentures

Implant supported dentures, also known as overdentures, are attached to and supported by implants. These are used when a patient does not teeth currently in the jaw, but when there is still enough bone in the jaw to support implants. There are special attachments in these dentures that allow them to fit properly with implants.

These types of implants are typically created for the lower jaw because this jaw tends to be less stable than the top jaw. Normally the top jaw is more stable and does not need the support of implants in order to fit the patient properly. Before any procedure is completed, your dentist will discuss both removable and more permanent options. This is because some may prefer a crown or bridge, which is permanent, while others may prefer a removable option.

How it works

There are two options for those who want implant supported dentures:

  • Ball-retained dentures (also called stud-attachment dentures) allow every implant in the jawbone to hold a metal bar which fits into a denture’s attachment. These tend to be shaped like a ball (male attachments) and fit into sockets (female attachments) located in the denture.
  • Bar-retained dentures allow a clip to be placed along the jaw’s curve so that two to five implants can be secured to the patient’s jawbone. Attachments or clips are then fitted to the patient’s jawbone, and the clip or the metal bar. The denture is then placed over the bar and secured by the attachments in the denture.

Preparing for implant supported dentures

Patients will either visit their dentist or a prosthodontist that can fabricate implants and plan their proper placement. Your dentist will inquire about your medical and dental history, perform X-rays, and take impressions of the teeth to make sure the correct implants are made. Some dentists require a computed tomography (CT) scan to help design the best possible implants for the patient. The CT scan also helps dentists take the sinuses into account when designing implants to make sure that they do not negatively affect nerves and sinuses. Dentists will usually make temporary dentures for the patient before the implant supported dentures are placed.

The process

Implants are usually secured to the front of the jaw because this is where the jawbone tends to be more stable. There are also less nerves in the area that could be affected by any possible implants. The timeline required for implant supported dentures varies based on the location (upper or lower jaw), the patient’s health, and whether or not the patient requires previous procedures to get ready for their new dentures and implants. It is estimated that it takes seven months for the upper jaw and five for the lower jaw. For some patients the procedure may take about a year. Two surgeries are then performed on the patient. The first one allows the dentist to place the implants and the second is about three to six months after these heal. Still, there is now a one-surgery option that is having success.

NB : if your are ongoing surgery remember to read our guide about dental sedation!