Implant retained dentures are dentures stabilised by dental implants. Dental implants are titanium screws that can be placed in the jaws when there is enough available bone to do so. This allows implant retained dentures and their special components to snap on to attachments on the dental implants, giving your dentures a stable fit.
How does it differ from complete dentures?
Regular complete dentures rest only on the gums and are not supported by any teeth or dental implants.
In some people complete dentures cannot be made to be stable due to deficiencies in the jaws, issues with the shape of the gums or problems with a strong gag reflex. Implant retained dentures can help solve this problem by anchoring the dentures to the jaw bones to resist movement when you smile, talk and chew.
Because implant retained dentures rely less on the gums for support, they can usually be made smaller and less bulky than regular complete dentures.
Why implant retained dentures?
Implant retained dentures can be made in the upper and lower jaws, however are more often made for the lower jaw as regular dentures tend to be less stable there. If you are struggling with your dentures moving when you are smiling, talking or chewing then you might benefit from denture stabilisation through dental implants.
What is the process?
If you are not already wearing complete dentures or your current set is very deficient, a provisional (temporary) set will need to be made. This will be worn during the whole process until the final implant retained dentures are ready.
These provisional dentures will guide where the implants are placed so they support your implant retained denture optimally. A CT scan also shows the available bone and supports the planning process.
Once implants are placed, your provisional dentures may be adjusted at some stage to make room for the implants as they emerge through the gum. After implant placement, a healing phase to allow the dental implants to integrate in the bone is needed. This takes approximately 2 to 3 months.
After this time your new implant dentures can be made. The stages differ only slightly to that of normal complete dentures. Each stage is very comfortable.
Once your final implant retained dentures are made, your provisional set can then be adapted to clip onto the dental implants, so you have a spare set should any maintenance or repairs be needed on your final set in the future. Ensuring you will never be left without your dentures for any reason.
Even though your implant retained dentures are stable, there will be slight movement when you chew. This, like normal complete dentures can initially cause the denture to rub against your gums, which can cause sore areas. At your implant retained dentures review 1-2 weeks after you receive your dentures, you may need minor adjustments to the surface of the denture where the sore areas are.
The attachments that clip on to the dental implants will usually need replacement every 6-12 months to ensure your dentures continue to attach firmly to the dental implants. This is because they are made of a plastic material which wears over time.
How do I clean my dentures?
Cleaning your implant retained dentures is the same as regular dentures. You should remove your dentures at night for cleaning and ideally leave them out at night time. You should also carefully clean around the implant attachments in your gums to ensure that they are plaque free and that the surrounding gums remains clean and healthy. To ensure this you should see a hygienist or dentist to check and clean your implants professionally at least once a year.