If you are missing some or all of your teeth, you might worry that you will need to cope with dentures for the rest of your life. With a reputation for slipping, pinching, and causing chewing difficulties, dentures can be tough to get used to. Today, however, there is an alternative to traditional dentures. Here is what you should know about traditional vs implant supported dentures.
What Are Traditional Dentures?
Traditional dentures were the treatment of choice for missing teeth for centuries. In fact, the earliest dentures are believed to have been in use since at least the 7th century BC. By the early 1800s, they were relatively commonplace, at least for those who could afford them.
By the 20th century, mass production and rapid advances in technology brought the costs down while dramatically improving both fit and appearance. Today’s dentures can appear quite life-like, and a talented dentist can enhance the fit for maximum comfort and chewing ability. They are an affordable option that can have good results for most patients.
Still, the nature of traditional dentures gives them quite a few limitations. They rest on your gums, minimizing bite force and risking slippage. Upper dentures are more stable than lower dentures, since they have an acrylic palate that adheres to the roof of the mouth by suction. Yet the same palate that provides stability also affects the taste and mouthfeel of food.
In addition, denture wearers are at risk for jawbone loss due to a bodily process known as resorption. This means that dentures must be frequently adjusted, and can promote wrinkles and other signs of premature aging.
What Are Implant Supported Dentures?
Implant supported dentures reduce or eliminate virtually all of the limitations of traditional dentures. Rather than simply resting on the gums, implant supported dentures are anchored by dental implants (tiny titanium screws) that are inserted into the jawbone. This gives the dentures structural support and stability, and drastically reduces bone loss.
Types of Implant Supported Dentures
Although there are quite a few small differences between different manufacturers, implant supported dentures come in two basic types, along with a hybrid. Removable overdentures, sometimes known as implant retained dentures, can be removed from the mouth at will, such as for cleaning or sleeping. Fixed implant supported dentures, sometimes known as fixed implant bridges, are permanently secured in the mouth, and cleaned and maintained just like natural teeth.
The biggest advantage of removable overdentures is the cost. A removable overdenture can be secured by as few as two implants, depending on the individual structure of your mouth. In this configuration, the denture snaps onto the implants with clasps or other retaining devices. Since so few implants and retaining devices are required, the cost is only moderately higher than that of traditional dentures. Yet the increased stability and bite strength are remarkable.If the upper denture is secured with 4 implants, it is usually possible to remove the palate, improving the taste and texture of foods.
A hybrid mid-range option uses a metal bar or similar configuration to lock the implants together, distributing chewing and biting forces evenly among them. This type of implant supported denture requires a few more implants, and is therefore a bit more expensive. However, it provides the stability necessary to chew tough steak, sticky candy, and other foods that are generally impossible with dentures. In many cases, this configuration also allows most or all of the acrylic palate to be removed from the upper denture, improving the taste and texture of foods.
The priciest but most life-like option is a fixed implant bridge. In this case, several implants are placed and then topped with a highly realistic-looking fixed bridge than can replace an entire arch of teeth. The replacement teeth are locked onto the implants in a way that makes them impossible for anyone but the dentist to remove. There is no acrylic or other unusual material in your mouth. You will brush your teeth as normal, and clean under the bridge according to the dentist’s instructions.
Benefits of Implant Supported Dentures
Whichever version of implant supported dentures you choose, you will notice the benefits immediately. A secure and comfortable fit, improvements to the taste and mouthfeel of food, the confidence to talk and laugh freely in public, the ability to eat foods you had long since given up, and the virtual elimination of bone loss are among the top benefits of implant supported dentures. While traditional dentures will do the job, why not invest in a solution that will help you look and feel your best?
Conveniently located in Woodbury, MN, Creekview Dental provides a progressive yet conservative approach to dental care. Our innovative, highly personalized procedures are focused on maintaining tooth structure and providing you with the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve. Call us today at 651-738-8204 to take the first steps on the road to better dental health.