Dental Implants for Dentures

Dentures are famous for not fitting well – for shifting around and becoming loose, causing embarrassment with speech and eating and creating physical irritation in the mouth. This is not surprising. It was in the cards from the start. Why?

As we age, the mouth tissues change. Gums and bone gradually shrink a little and the contours that previously fitted comfortably beneath your dentures are now different. The dentures must be adjusted or replaced with new ones. This is why implant-supported dentures are such a boon.

What are Dental Implants?

A dental implant is a false tooth root. When you have lost a tooth, your dental surgeon positions it in the jawbone at the exactly right place to hold a replacement tooth. In general, one implant can hold two teeth; four implants can hold an archful of teeth; and eight implants can hold a mouthful of teeth. There are exceptions to this however, as each mouth is individual. Also, because the upper jaw has a lower bone density than the lower jaw, it tends to need more implants.

To hold a denture, you need at least two dental implants. If you have both upper and lower dentures, you would need at least four implants. Each implant has a small abutment visible above the gumline that fits into the denture.

One of the big benefits of dental implants is that they fill the gap left in the jawbone by a missing tooth. In the long term, this is just as important as filling the gap left by the tooth crown, even though the jawbone gap is invisible. When the bone is left with that gap, bone tissue gradually shrinks inward to fill it; and even before that happens, the gum tissue above the gap sinks downward into it, creating a hollow indentation in the gums.

The Implant Procedure

In some cases, the dentures are designed first and in others, they are designed after the implants are placed. Dentures that fit over implants (or over existing teeth) are called overdentures. They would be designed to give the best vertical dimension for your face, with gums and teeth the right length to fill out the cheeks, lips, and facial outline. This keeps your face looking younger. The teeth themselves will be the right shapes and color, designed aesthetically to give you an attractive smile.

For the placement of implants, you will have local anesthetic, as for any dental work, and also a gentle sedative if you feel apprehensive. The implants look like small screws and are made of pure titanium. Bone and titanium have a good affinity.

Once the implants are in position and the gums are closed over them, several months must usually pass for healing. The bone will grow in closely around each implant, right into the thread contours, making the implant part of itself. This process is called osseointegration.

The next step is to attach a projection or abutment to the top of the implant and this is a minor surgery that needs only about two weeks for the gums to recover. The final step places your new dentures on the abutments. Now you have new teeth and new tooth roots and the fit of your dentures does not depend on the shape of your gums. They simply fit onto the abutments, which remain the same.

Caring For Your Implant-Supported Dentures

The dentures are removable for cleaning and if you keep them clean and also care properly for your mouth, preventing any gum disease, your implant-supported dentures can serve you for a lifetime.

About the Author
If you are in the Calgary, Alberta area of Canada, and would like to consult a qualified dentist about dental implants to hold your dentures, please visit Dr. Steven Cload’s website.

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