Aging patients may require the use of prosthetic teeth due to a combination of tooth decay and gum disease. Losing teeth can be a devastating experience, creating difficulty when you chew and speak, and making you less confident with others. Traditional dentures are a possible solution, but most patients who wear dentures complain about the movement that occurs when talking and chewing. Other complaints include fear that the dentures will fall out while carrying on a conversation with friends and family members. Furthermore, the friction against your gums can irritate the soft tissues of your mouth. Today, tooth loss patients have another option that brings none of these negative side effects. Commonly referred to as implant-supported dentures, overdentures offer more stability and comfort than traditional false teeth.
At Desert Family Dental, we understand these concerns and offer overdentures as a solution. Dr. Scott Lee provides dental implants and overdentures to eliminate your anxieties about potential shifting, slipping, or falling out. This treatment option provides you unparalleled stability, while still letting you easily remove your dentures after meals and for nightly cleaning.
What are Overdentures?
Overdentures, also known as implant-supported dentures, are dentures attached to two or more permanent dental implants for complete stability. The implants are surgically placed in the jaw, and the patient must go through a healing process whereby the implant fuses with the bone (osseointegration). When the healing process is complete, a permanent overdenture is constructed and attached to the implants. The overdenture is designed to be stable, yet can be removed via a convenient snapping mechanism. Dr. Lee has found that the placement of only two implants gives our patients excellent results in most cases.
Control and Freedom
Unlike with traditional dentures, we can guarantee that your overdentures won’t embarrass you by falling out while you’re talking or chewing. In fact, they’ll improve the quality of your bite and your ability to chew foods properly. The need to carefully plan your meals around your dentures will be gone; you’ll have the freedom to eat all your favorite foods, even if that includes hard peanut brittle, corn on the cob, or crisp, whole apples!
Because overdentures are securely attached to dental implants, there will be no friction to irritate your gums. With no gum soreness and no dietary restrictions, you’ll have full control over your meal choices and the freedom to eat what you like!
Preserve Your Appearance
A disadvantage of losing your teeth is that over a period of 10-20 years your appearance will slowly change. Facial degeneration and shrinking of the lower jaw are common concerns for patients who wear traditional dentures. Overdentures, however, prevent bone deterioration by imitating the roots of natural teeth.
It may seem like our bones are permanent, fixed structures, but our bodies are constantly in the process of breaking down and rebuilding bone tissue. With natural teeth, each time you bite down the tooth roots stimulate connective tissues, which signals the body to continue sending minerals to support bone growth. Implant-based overdentures mimic this process and thereby prevent facial collapse.
Maintain a Natural-Looking Smile
Your smile says a lot about you. When you’re proud of the appearance of your smile, you feel more encouraged to take on new tasks and meet new people. Implant-supported dentures look and feel more like natural teeth, so you’ll never feel held back by dentures again.
If you have a few healthy teeth, but still require the use of prosthetic teeth, partial dentures may be the best solution. Dr. Lee suggests partial dentures when patients have some healthy teeth intact in the same region of your upper or lower arch. For example, many patients require a partial denture to replace the molars, while leaving intact the teeth that show when you smile.
All dentures, whether implant-supported or not, are created of highly durable and life-like materials, and will look very much like natural teeth. You can rest assured knowing that Dr. Lee will make sure that any issues with the fit or comfort of your prosthetic teeth will be addressed, until you are happy with your new smile.
How are Dental Implants Placed?
Before committing to overdentures, it’s important to understand the process for having dental implants placed. Through a small incision in your gum, Dr. Lee will surgically place a screw-like titanium base into your healthy jawbone, and, over a period of months, the implant will fuse with the bone, to create a stable base for your overdentures.
Dr. Lee may recommend bone grafting if your jaw does not have enough bone mass to support dental implants. When a patient has gone without teeth for several years, bone deterioration may have already weakened the jaw. In this case, bone grafting may take place during implant surgery or as a separate surgery, about six weeks before dental implant placement. Bone grafting involves taking natural or synthetic particulate bone material and surgically placing it at the site where the implants will be. This encourages bone growth, so the implants will have a stable base.
Overdentures can be attached to your new implants once the jaw has fully healed, and new bone cells have grown into the grooves of the implant. It usually takes about three to six months for bone growth to be thorough enough to stabilize the implants. During recovery time, it’s imperative for patients to get adequate nutrition and ample rest, to allow the body the tools it needs to create new bone growth in the jaw. As you heal, Dr. Lee will assess your progress and make sure the implants are properly integrating with your jawbone, gums, and surrounding tissues.
After your surgery and recovery time, Dr. Lee will attach an abutment to the implants, which can then be used to attach to your overdentures. In some cases, he may decide to use a thin metal bar that joins two of the dental implants to provide extra support for your prosthetic device. About two weeks after your abutment procedure, a dental impression can be taken and your overdentures will custom made in a dental laboratory.
Caring for Your Overdentures
Your overdentures will securely attach to the dental implants, but they’ll still be easy to remove when it’s time to clean them.
Daily cleaning is fairly simple:
- Remove the overdenture and rinse under warm water after every meal.
- Brush the mouth and overdentures clean at night.
- Floss around the implants each night.
- Sanitize and soak the overdenture while you sleep.
Dr. Lee advises patients to remove their dentures and clean the mouth daily to maintain good oral hygiene. While the dentures are out, carefully and thoroughly clean around the implants. A soft bristled wet toothbrush will help you clean your mouth effectively. Be sure to gently scrub your tongue, gums, dentures, and the roof of your mouth. Although it may seem silly to floss without natural teeth, you should floss around your implants. This will remove any built-up food particles and bacteria that weren’t removed with the toothbrush.
Soaking your overdentures each night will protect their appearance and function. Use a denture-cleaning tab and a clean glass of water each night to ensure they are properly sanitized and do not dry out. the longevity of your restoration.
Don’t wait any longer to schedule your dental visit with Dr. Lee to discuss whether overdentures may be right for you. Contact our Mesa, AZ, dental office at (480) 838-4185 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Lee. We look forward to restoring your smile!