When you’re missing all your teeth, the easiest and most traditional way of restoring that is to give you a set of complete dentures. However, dentures also present with their own set of problems. Most people don’t have much issue with the upper denture – as long as they don’t suffer from a dry mouth or have a very flat palate, there is usually a reasonable amount of suction present.
The main problem people face is with the lower denture. Unlike in the upper, there is no palate. Instead, the presence of a tongue makes the denture a lot more mobile. Lower dentures can get easily displaced during normal muscle movements when talking or eating. When food gets trapped under the denture while chewing, it can begin to chafe and hurt.
Fortunately, implants are able to help tremendously in that aspect. Implants can help to anchor your denture down, by converting it to an overdenture with a snap-on kind of design. Two or four implants can be placed, and the denture can now have something to hold on to, so it doesn’t pop out during daily activities like eating and talking. This is the less expensive implant denture option. While it is not quite as stable as a prosthesis that is screwed into place, it’s A WHOLE LOT BETTER than a conventional denture. We’ve treated many patients who’ve “upgraded” their dentures with implants and almost everyone is very happy with the improvements. They can eat better, speak, and laugh more easily, all without the fear of something slipping.
Implants can also help with upper dentures.
If we have a good number of implants supporting them, we can convert a conventional full plate denture into one with a u-shaped design. The denture no longer covers the palate – a change that is often very helpful for patients with anatomical limitations, like a large torus, or if patients have very bad gag reflexes. An added benefit is that when the palate is freed, it helps you taste and enjoy your favorite foods better. The small taste buds that would otherwise be obstructed are now exposed and you have a better sense of temperature, from a warm bowl of soup to a delicious scoop of ice cream.
To go one step up from a complete implant overdenture, the next step would be to place enough implants to get us an implant bridge that sits directly on the implants, right up against your gums. In this way, the prosthesis is fully fixed in the mouth and is the closest we get to having regular teeth again.
These are the various denture options for patients living with or facing total tooth loss. Luckily, dentistry has come a long way, thank to the advent of dental implants
Just know this: If you are facing this type of decision and treatment, wherever you are located geographically, please see a prosthodontist for a consultation and get their advice. One of the core areas within the specialty of prosthodontics is that we manage missing teeth. We are highly trained in this area and are well equipped to handle even the most complex cases.
If this sounds like what you’re facing, feel free to give us a call come in for a consultation. Dr. Tan will be happy to examine you, review your medical and dental history, help discuss your wants, and determine your needs. Let us show you what your options are and help you find a way to have the kind of smile that you want.