An implant-supported denture is a combination of two technologies. A traditional denture tray is attached to and secured by surgically placed dental implants. A regular denture rests on the gums and is secured by adhesive, not dental implants.
At DC Dental Spa we are deliberate with our thorough dental exams and checkups. Our modern dental technology available in our clinic and the calming atmosphere will help us carefully evaluate any issues we discover. Call 202-873-1054 for your initial consultation and let us help decide if implant supported dentures will be an option for you if you are tired of your traditional dentures.
How Implant Supported Dentures Work
An implant-supported denture has special clips that snap onto attachments on the implant post extensions. Implant-supported dentures are made most often for the lower jaw because regular dentures tend to be less stable there. Usually, a regular denture made to fit an upper jaw is more stable on its own and does not need the extra stability provided by implants. You certainly can receive an implant-supported denture in either the upper or lower jaw if you wish.
There are two types of implant-supported dentures: the bar-retained and the ball-retained. With both types, the denture will be made of an acrylic tray that will look like your gums. Porcelain or acrylic artificial teeth that look like natural teeth are then attached to the base. Both types must have at least two implants for support.
- Bar-retained dentures — A thin metal bar following the curve of your jaw is attached to two to five implants that have been placed in your jawbone. Clips are fitted to the bar, the denture or both. The denture fits over the bar and is secured by the clips.
- Ball-retained dentures (stud-attachment dentures) — Each implant placed in the jawbone matches up with a clip on the backside of the denture tray. The attachments on the implant posts are ball-shaped (“male” attachments), and they fit into sockets (“female” attachments) on the denture.
The Implant Process
The implants usually are placed in the jawbone at the front of your mouth because there is more jawbone to work with. This usually is true even if teeth have been missing for some time. Once you lose teeth, you begin to lose bone in the area. The front jaw does not have many nerves or other structures that could interfere with the placement of implants.
Two surgeries are usually required. The first one places the implant posts in the jawbone under your gums. The second surgery will expose the tops of the posts to add extensions or abutments to reach the gumline surface. The second procedure comes two to four months after the first.
During the dental exam, we will review your medical and dental histories, take X-rays, and create impressions of your teeth and gums so that models can be made. We may order a computed tomography (CT) scan of your mouth. This shows where your sinus cavity is and where nerves are. It allows us to make sure they will not be affected by the implant placement. A CT scan also shows jawbone density and the optimal position for the implants. If you are not wearing a complete denture to replace your natural teeth, we will make you one. You will use this temporary denture the procedure is completed. The temporary denture can also be used as the final denture to reduce overall costs if you wish. Clips will need to be added so it can fit securely to the implants.
After the first surgery, you should avoid putting pressure on the implants. The temporary denture can be made so that direct pressure is placed on other areas.
We will wait two to four months before scheduling the second surgery. During this time, the bone and the implants integrate (attach and fuse). This natural process delivers the strength and stability just like a natural root.
The dentists at DC Dental Spa will confirm whether the implant is ready for the second surgery by taking an X-ray. This surgery is simpler than the first. A small incision is made in your gum to expose the tops of the implant posts.
A healing cap is placed on the head of each implant after it is exposed. This guides the gum tissue to heal correctly. The collar is a small, round piece of metal that holds the gums away from the head of the implant. The collar will be in place for about two weeks. Then the healing caps will be replaced with regular abutments. Your gums should now be healed enough for us to make an impression of your gum tissue and abutments. The impression is used to make a working model of your abutments and jaw. This model is used to make the denture framework and teeth. At this point, if a bar-retained denture has been prescribed for you, then the metal bar is placed on the abutments. The bar or ball attachments also will be secured. When the denture is inserted, the denture is clipped onto the bar or snapped onto the ball attachments.
Aftercare of Your Implant Supported Denture
You will need to remove the denture at night and for cleaning. You should carefully clean around the attachments. We will test your new dentures to see if they are secure. Even though it seems stable, it still can move slightly when you chew. This tiny movement can cause rubbing, which can cause sore spots. The clip or other attachments usually will need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months. They are made of a plastic material (nylon) and will wear with continued use.
What to Expect
Your implant-supported denture will be much more stable than traditional dentures. It will be easier to speak and you will not have to worry about the denture becoming loose. You will be able to eat foods you could not eat before. The titanium posts, acting as roots, deliver pressure sensations as well as temperature changes from hot to cold. Caring for your dentures is like caring for natural teeth. You should brush twice daily to remove food particles and plaque and to prevent staining. You should also:
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and a non-abrasive cleanser to gently brush all the surfaces of the dentures so they do not get scratched.
- Carefully clean around the attachments.
- When brushing, clean your mouth thoroughly. This includes your gums, cheeks, roof of your mouth and tongue to remove any plaque. Brushing can help reduce the risk of oral irritation and bad breath.
- When you are not wearing your dentures, put them in a safe place covered in water to keep them from warping.
High Quality Care You Can Trust
At the downtown office of DC Dental Spa, our attentive and caring staff will work with you to accommodate your busy schedule. Our entire team shares in the total enjoyment of building strong and lasting relationships with each patient. We really appreciate that our patients continue to place trust in us through their regular dental exams. We are careful, thoughtful, and thorough about exercising preventative overall dental health and delivering the enjoyment that comes with your healthy smile. Visit us today at DC Dental Spa, 730 24th St. NW, Suite 9, Washington, DC, 20037, or call 202-873-1054 for an evaluation and consultation to see if you might be a candidate for implant supported dentures.