Dental Implants can Anchor a Denture
Dental Implants to anchor a denture stabilize a partial or complete denture. The implant "roots" work like roots of teeth to take stress deep in the jaw bone, where it belongs, rather than on the surface of the gums with a denture. Many patients find lower dentures to be troublesome, and nearly all patients have enough bone in the lower jaw to place two or more implants to anchor a denture. Implants can also be used to anchor partial dentures, to avoid unsightly metal clasps that anchor a partial denture to natural teeth and distribute stress better. We can usually modify an existing denture to fasten to implants. Implants can be often be used to anchor an upper denture, allowing removal of some of the denture base that covers the palate, reducing gagging problems and enhancing speech and the ability to tell temperature and position of food when eating. There are some cases where it is possible to fasten a "hybrid" denture to implants so it is not removable by the patient.
Dental Implants to Anchor a Denture Procedure
We carefully plan each case with a thorough exam, images, and any medical consults that are needed.
Implant placement is usually completed with local anesthetic in less than an hour, and is much less traumatic than removing a tooth. We can often place implants with only a small opening in the gums, three or four very short passes with a series of drills, and finally insertion of the implant and a titanium healing cap. Some cases require reflection of the gums to visualize the bone and a couple of sutures. Immediate loading with a denture can reduce the success rate of implants, so beware of claims for "teeth in a day". The implants are allowed to heal and integrate with the bone for three or four months, depending on the density of the bone. You can count on us to help you make a clear choice for dental implant care that is right for you.
Restoration of the implants is a very easy procedure, no anesthetic needed. We can usually place individual anchor assemblies on the implants and the locking parts in the denture in a single visit in our office. Some cases work better with a titanium bar to connect the implants that is hidden under the denture, and we take an impression of the implants for the laboratory, just like we do for regular crowns on natural teeth. Our lab fabricates a custom milled titanium bar that we fasten to the implants with "fixation screws", then we attach the locking parts in the denture in our office.
Alternatives to Implants to Anchor Dentures
The sad truth is that many people rely on expensive denture adhesives to stabilize their dentures, and they still don't get to enjoy smiling, eating, and speaking as well as they could. Doing nothing is always an alternative, but please note that jaw bones are not designed for the stress of a denture on the surface of the bone, resulting in slow but steady loss of bone height and width over time. Many patients find that over the decades their bone shrinks to the level of the muscle attachments of the lips and tongue, so any movement "trips" the denture. Implants offer the advantage of holding the bone height.
by Keith Collins, DMD