Implant Overdentures

The greatest advancement in the modern era of dentistry is the dental implant. While it is useful in replacing missing teeth, the most dramatic and significant usage is in implant overdentures.  While overdentures are removable, they allow the denture to be held in place by snapping onto implants.

Implant overdentures have changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals, especially those who had traditional lower dentures. While an upper denture tends to have some stability due to the bone at the roof of the mouth, the lower denture is more commonly referred to as a "floater." Without regular and large quantities of denture adhesive, the lower denture is unstable in most situations.  Although the lower denture is the most common area to secure with implants, the upper denture can also have implants placed to help retain it.

Dental Implants allow the denture to snap into place, restoring some biting forces and greatly improving the comfort of chewing. If you have an existing lower denture, imagine eating steak again! Or what about fresh vegetables? For most patients, implant overdentures can restore a healthy, high fiber diet. In addition, implant overdentures can give a denture wearer back a feeling of security, especially in social situations, such eating out at a restaurant or when they go to church.

There are 3 main type of overdentures.  The first type that has recently gained some popularity due to the lower cost of treatment and the shorter healing time between surgery and full use of the implants, is the mini implant.  Contrary to some opinions, mini implants are FDA approved for use as a long term solution.  However, they do experience a higher failure rate than regularly sized implants.  The mini implants use a ball and gasket design to retain the denture.  There are several benefits of using mini implants:

- Patients rarely need to rely on denture pastes and adhesives
- They may be used in thinner bone without grafting procedures
- The surgery to place them is very quick
- The surgery does not require large incisions
- The entire procedure to secure a lower denture costs $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the condition of the existing denture

The limitations of mini implants include:

- Mini implants do not last as long as regular implants
- They generally cannot be upgraded to a non-removable option
- The rentention gaskets do not last as long as other options
- The back of the denture still lifts off of the gums when chewing certain foods
- Chewing pressure is entirely on the gums, so the same types of pain and discomfort experienced in a traditional denture appy to this option, but to a lesser degree
- All of the same limitations of a traditional denture, including needing frequent relines, potential esthetic issues, and functional issues

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Left: The mini implants in a minimal amount of bone.
Right: The gaskets that hold the denture on the implant ball heads.

The second type of overdenture uses a special attachment device known as the Locator abutment, and is currently the most popular form of overdenture.  This is because it only requires two implants, minimizing costs.  The benefits of a Locator denture are:

- Implants are long lasting
- Implants can be upgraded to a non-removable option later
- Implants can be placed at the same time that teeth are removed
- The total cost to place and restore two implants is from $3,500 to $5,500, depending on the condition of the existing denture

The limitations of a Locator solution include:

- Patients must wait 4-6 months for adequate healing before the implants can be used
- The back of the denture still lifts off of the gums when chewing certain foods
- Chewing pressure is entirely on the gums, so the same types of pain and discomfort experienced in a traditional denture appy to this option, but to a lesser degree
- All of the same limitations of a traditional denture, including needing frequent relines, potential esthetic issues, and functional issues

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Left: These implants can be placed at the same time that teeth are extracted. However, 4-6 months of healing must take place before they are used.
Right: These nylon retainers are easy to clean and last a long time.

The third type of overdenture is a bar overdenture.  Since we have brought the costs for a non-removable implant restoration within several thousand dollars of a bar overdenture, we are not offering this as an option for our patients.  Bar overdentures are superior to the other two types because the load generated from eating is transmitted entirely to the implants, and not to the gums.  However, the cost of fabricating a precision bar, along with a matching denture is almost as much as making a high end prosthesis that is not removable.  The main downside of a bar overdenture is cost and maintenance.  If the bar wears down, it must be remade, along with a new denture.

For information regarding non-removable implant options, please click on the Traditional Fixed or LM Bridge option.

For more information, call us today.

Modern Dentistry
(630) 466-7445

info@mdmoderndentistry.com