A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth, bridge or denture.
Dental implants may be an option for people who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason.
Regular dentures rely on the gums for suction where an implant supported denture is held in securely by implants.
To find out if you are a candidate for implants you would go to an oral surgeon who will take x-rays and do an oral exam. If your bone ridge has shrunk significantly, it can normally be corrected with a bone graph which will build up on your bone to allow a successful implant to be placed.
There are two types of implant-supported dentures: bar-retained and ball-retained. In both cases, the denture will be made of an acrylic base that will look like gums. Porcelain or acrylic teeth that look like natural teeth are attached to the base. Both types of dentures need at least two implants for support.
- Bar-retained dentures — A thin metal bar that follows the curve of your jaw is attached to two to five implants that have been placed in your jawbone. Clips or other types of attachments are fitted to the bar, the denture or both. The denture fits over the bar and is securely clipped into place by the attachments.
- Ball-retained dentures — Each implant in the jawbone holds a metal attachment that fits into an attachment in the denture. It is more successful if you get 4 implants rather than 2 so the plate is sturdy, like a table with 4 legs instead of 2. The clips or other attachments in the denture are usually replaced every 6 to 12 months. They are made of a plastic material (nylon) and will wear after continued use.
Advantage of dentures over implants:
- Increased ability to chew
- No denture movement while laughing or sneezing
- Increased confidence to smile naturally
The success rate of this procedure is very high with most patients finding dramatic improvements in their abilities to wear dentures.
Cleaning and care of your implant denture is the same as a regular denture, you should remove it daily to clean the denture and gum area as well, you should not sleep with the implant-supported dentures at night.