Smiling with Confidence, Chewing with Comfort
By Dr. Earl L. Chambers
Long gone are the days of tolerating loose dentures. The clacking and lisping are a thing of the past. There has been a long history of efforts to stabilize this type of prosthesis, which brings to mind George Washington’s wooden teeth coupled with springs. Marked improvements were made since the late 1700s, but nothing rivals the ability to compliment your denture or partial denture with implant technology. Implants, or more correctly termed root form dental implants, can be an effective means of single-tooth replacement, as most people are aware of this very popular option. However, the dental implant can also help to increase the comfort and function of dentures. Originally developed in Sweden, implants have been here in the U.S. since 1975, with a success rate nearing 95 percent. This is similar to the success rate of conventional crown and bridgework attached to natural teeth.
Many local dentists have been providing implant-complemented dentures for years. They have found the changes in lifestyle gained by this improvement are unsurpassed, and truly one of the more profound changes we can make for the individual who has had to tolerate the difficulties of removable dentures. The old dentures limited what you could eat, but now a Red Delicious apple is enjoyable. The most recognizable change that patients attest to is the increased retention that provides for comfort and confidence traditional dentures didn’t afford.
The concept of attaching dentures to implants can be categorized into two basic types: the simpler and more popular, as well as least expensive type, is implant-assisted dentures. These can be applicable to either the upper or lower jaw dependent on the conditions and structures of one’s mouth. Every one is different. However, there is most commonly two to four dental implants placed in this situation. The objective here is added retention. Other benefits include the fortification of the jaw and hard structures. Prior to implants the jaw structures would often atrophy and become less than ideal for any prosthesis.
The means by which the denture is attached is usually a small clip or ball that comes from the implant head and engages the denture with a snap of reassurance. One of the more appealing features of this type of denture on the upper arch is that there is less coverage of your hard palate, making for improved taste and temperature associations. This is possible because the denture does not require the suction between the denture and your palate that a traditional denture would require. This same implant assistance to partial dentures has also helped many who contend with the slight movement and the uncomfortable nature of a denture made around natural teeth.
The second type of implant denture combination is called the implant-supported denture. This prosthesis is not only retained by the implants, but does allow the denture to rest directly on the implants. Ordinarily you would require four to six implants for this type of denture, which allows for more of a support mechanism than just retention as described in the implantassisted denture just described. The improvement here is the increased function and the removal of pressure from the gum tissue, giving the patient more of a tooth-to-tooth sensation.
Both options are considered removable dentures. These are removable at night time and for hygiene purposes, and would require periodic recall and visits with your dentist to ensure health and maintenance. A nonremovable and fixed-in-place denture or prosthesis is also an option. It would require similar number of implants but is fixated in such a way that you have more semblances of the natural teeth and doesn’t require all the extra material associated with the assisted and supported dentures. I will explain this option in the next issue.
Dr. Chambers is a graduate of St. Mary’s College and attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. Dr. Cibele Raimondo, originally from Brazil, joined the practice in 2004. She earned her D.D.S. from University of Maryland, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. They can be reached at 410.224.2660 or visit their website at www.ChambersFamilyDentistry.com