If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a beautiful smile is worth a thousand pictures.
When your natural teeth are no longer in place, it can be hard to find the confidence to smile again. Ordinary dentures are clumsy, hard to manage, and often unflattering. Newer denture technology has devised ways to give you back your smile, without the hassle and discomfort of removable dentures and the sticky, goopy adhesives that come with them.
What are Implant Dentures?
Normal dentures are a set of false teeth that must be affixed to the gums, temporarily, and removed at times. Remembering your dentures can be difficult at times, and many wearers can feel embarrassed, or at least uncomfortable with them.
Implant dentures solve the problems of wearing dentures by looking and feeling much more like natural teeth. These permanent false teeth are called implants because they are installed directly into your body, exactly wear your natural teeth would be.
According to gotoapro.com estimates that “more than 36 million Americans do not have any teeth, and 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth. These numbers are expected to grow in the next two decades.” Since teeth grow separately from the jawbone and are composed of different tissue, unhealthy teeth do not necessarily indicate an unhealthy jawbone. This is good news for the many millions of people who have no teeth at all since it means that denture implants may be possible for many, if not most people missing some or all their teeth.
To have implant dentures installed, some of the underlying bone structure of the jaw must be intact. That’s because the base for the implant denture must be attached directly to the jawbone, almost like a set of rods instead of teeth. These attachment pieces are the implants themselves. They provide a base for false teeth that simply snap into place on the implant structure.
How do Implant Dentures Work?
There are 2 kinds of implant dentures: bar retained and ball retained. Both kinds start with an acrylic base designed to look indistinguishable from your gums. The teeth the attach to the base can be made from acrylic or porcelain, and these also have a natural look to them.
Bar-retained dentures use a sleek bar of metal the runs on the natural curve of your jaw. Along the bar, up to five implants are installed. Clips built into the implants or the denture allow for easy attachment and detachment.
Ball-retained dentures, sometimes called stud-attachment dentures, follow more of a one-to-one ratio, with each stud of the implant piece being designated for one tooth of the denture. The point of connection on the implants are round like balls. Sockets on the denture can simply be slid atop these pieces.
The installation of Implant Dentures
Since ordinary dentures are notoriously difficult to keep in place upon the lower jaw, implant dentures are especially common for replacing the lower row of teeth. Still, implant for the upper jaw are widely available, and likely more convenient and comfortable that traditional dentures.
Typically, the implants are installed in front of the mouth where there is more bone structure. Although teeth and bone are not the same tissues, the loss of teeth begins a bone decay process. Thus, implant dentures must be installed quickly after tooth loss. Bone decay can reach a point when implants are no longer possible in as early as 5 months.
The installation requires 2 rounds of surgery: one to set the implants in the jawbone, and the second to fine tune the implants, exposing their tips which are previously under the gumline. As the technologies advance, a single surgery process is becoming more widely available.
Care, Maintenance, and Costs
As great as implant dentures sound, they do require some maintenance, and this will be different that the care of traditional dentures. Those can be removed and soaked overnight in cleaning solution.
Implant dentures, however, can be removed individually every day for cleaning of both the artificial tooth and the gums. As is the case for typical dentures, sleeping with them in is not recommended. However, there are options for non-removable, fixed implant dentures, and these can be cleaned like natural teeth, with a toothbrush and toothpaste. The choice of whether to get fixed or removable dentures is best made through consultation with your dentist.
Over time, implant dentures became more cost-effective than removable dentures, which may need more products to maintain, and could need replacing at one time or another. Implant dentures, however, have an initial surgical cost runs from $3000-$4500, but once installed can last a lifetime. With the insurance options at your disposal, the costs can be much lower, making implant dentures a cheaper and more enjoyable smile-replacement system.