Enjoy the Freedom of a Denture with the Security of an Implant
Overdentures are almost like regaining your natural teeth.
If you’ve lost all or most of your teeth on one or both arches, you’re likely beginning to think about getting dentures. This treatment is one of the most well-known ways to rebuild your smile after extensive tooth loss, but it’s not your only option. Thanks to advanced dental technology, there’s another option—one that’s widely considered to be better in many ways—overdentures.
This treatment—also called implant-supported dentures—offers the same benefits as traditional dentures while also improving on them, giving you more freedom and security than traditional dentures. In fact, overdentures can help you to turn back the clock and feel as if you’ve regained your natural teeth. But what are they, and what new benefits do they offer compared to traditional dentures? We want you to have all the knowledge necessary to make a confident, informed decision about your treatment, so we’ve put together a guide on overdentures to help you understand them better and to determine if they could be right for you.
First, what is an overdenture?
While traditional dentures rely on a combination of custom-sized fitting and suction to stay in place in your mouth, overdentures, which you might know better as implant-supported dentures, are held firmly in place by dental implants. Dental implants are titanium metal “roots” that replace your missing tooth roots. These metal rods are then secured with partial or full dentures, allowing them to replace many or all of the teeth in an arch of your mouth—and they do so with incredible success! Implants on the lower jawbone have a success rate of 95% or more, making them a stunningly effective restorative dentistry technique. Most overdentures are removable to make cleaning and maintenance easier, but you can choose those that are fixed in place.
There are five different types of overdentures.
1. Implant-Supported Overdentures
This is the standard type of overdenture, usually placed on four to six implants. The resulting removable prosthetic teeth are strong and secure, but easy to remove when you need to clean them or sleep.
2. Fixed Implant-Supported Overdentures
The biggest difference between this type of overdenture and implant-supported overdentures is that these are fixed in place. Only your dentist can remove them during dental appointments—they don’t come off at home. Instead, they stay fixed in place in your mouth all the time just like natural teeth. This offers added strength and security.
3. Partial Overdentures
Partial overdentures are much like standard implant-supported overdentures, but on a smaller scale. They’re used to replace your teeth when you’re not missing an entire arch.
4. Ball Retained Implant-Supported Overdentures
On this type of overdenture, the abutments, which are the metal pieces on top of your implants that your removable prosthetic teeth attach to, are ball-shaped. They’re most often placed on your lower arch, and the unique shape makes cleaning and maintenance easier.
5. Bar-Retained Implant-Supported Overdentures
This type of overdenture is characterized by bars that stretch between the implants to connect them. Your removable prosthetic teeth snap on and off this bar, making them secure but easy to remove.
How do overdentures work?
The secret to success with overdentures is in the implants that support them. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that replaces the roots of your teeth instead of just the chewing surface, and this provides many unique benefits. They stay in place so well because they’re made of titanium, which is biocompatible. This means that your body recognizes the metal, so the implants encourage new bone growth. The bone grows up and around the implants just like it would around a natural tooth root, holding them more securely in place. It’s this compatibility feature that allows overdentures to feel so natural and secure. Additionally, the dentures that are placed on top of your implants are custom-made for you. They’re designed to fit your mouth perfectly and comfortably, and you’re able to choose the size, shape, and shade of your new teeth. This ensures a smile you will genuinely love.
Since overdentures involve embedding implants directly into your jaw, the process is much more involved than with traditional dentures. It involves multiple surgical procedures over several months. Once you’ve finished the consultation and planning process, your first surgical procedure involves placing the implants in your jaw. It’s done under localized anesthesia, ensuring you won’t feel a thing. Your jaw needs time to heal and grow around the implants after this initial procedure—a process called osseointegration that can take around six months. After your jaw has healed enough, the next step is a procedure to attach the abutments to your implants. Impressions will also be taken of your mouth and will be sent to an outside lab to help create your restoration. It will take a few weeks for your dentures to be crafted and sent to our office, giving your gums plenty of time to heal from the latest procedure. Your dentures will be placed on your implants during your next visit.
What advantages do overdentures have over traditional dentures?
The unique placement of overdentures gives them many advantages that traditional dentures simply can’t provide. One of the biggest advantages is that overdentures prevent bone loss in your jaw. Your natural tooth roots stimulate your jawbone when you chew, telling it to continue sending nutrients to it. When you lose a tooth, you lose this stimulation. Your body responds by reabsorbing the bone in these areas, leading to a loss in bone density. Since they replace your tooth roots, dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that provides much-needed stimulation and prevents bone loss. Additionally, traditional dentures can worsen bone loss by wearing away at the shelf of bone that the dentures rest against, leading to a sunken-in appearance after longtime denture wear. Overdentures prevent this from happening, and protect the long-term health of your jawbone. In fact, since implants encourage new bone growth, they can even reverse minor bone loss in most cases.
The support of implants also means that overdentures are more secure and stronger than traditional dentures, giving you the stability you need to eat all your favorite foods without worry, including tough meat or even corn on the cob. This stability allows the overdentures to function—and even feel—just like natural teeth. Thanks to improved materials and expertly crafted, custom-made restorations, overdentures look just like natural teeth too! This is why implants are often regarded as the best tooth replacement option out there.
Are you a good candidate for overdentures?
When it comes to getting dental implants, you’ll need to have healthy bone density in your jaw. Implants anchor in your jawbone, so it needs to be healthy before you can get them. You can sometimes resolve bone loss in your jaw by receiving bone grafts, so if you’ve already experienced bone loss, you may still be able to get implants. Since dental implants involve surgical procedures that require a long healing process, you may not be a good candidate if you have conditions that make you vulnerable to infections or cause you to heal slowly. If you have a condition like this, it doesn’t mean you absolutely can’t get implants—but it does mean that you’ll need to discuss your options with your dentist and doctor.
Otherwise, overdentures are a great option for anyone who is missing a significant number of teeth. Generally, if you’re a candidate for partial or full dentures, you’re also a candidate for overdentures! If you’re not sure whether you’re a good candidate for the procedure, you can always schedule a consultation with Dr. Monroe. He’ll perform an evaluation and discuss your treatment needs and goals, then he’ll recommend the best treatment for you.
While traditional dentures remain a good tooth replacement option for many people, overdentures restore the function, health, and beauty of missing teeth in ways that traditional dentures simply cannot. They provide a sense of security, freedom, and natural confidence that makes them well worth considering! If you’d like to learn more about overdentures from an implant dentist in Greenville SC, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Monroe at any time.