Missing All Lower Teeth
Although many patients have no problem wearing an upper denture, some people find it very difficult to wear and eat with lower dentures. Several dental implant-supported replacement options are available if you are missing all of your lower teeth.
Ball Attachment Denture
One option is to have two implants placed in your lower jaw and a denture made that snaps onto these implants. This option allows your lower denture to be more stable while chewing than without implants. However, there will still be movement of your lower denture, and sore spots will occur if any food particles, especially seeds, are caught under it. As with all removable replacement teeth, you will still need periodic appointments for denture adjustments.
Another option involves placing four to six implants, depending on your jaw size or shape, into your lower jaw. After healing is complete, the implants are connected with a custom-made support bar. Your denture will be made with special internal retention clips which attach to the support bar, enabling the denture to snap into place. This “overdenture” is much more stable than the last option mentioned, and allows for very little denture movement. Your denture, though, is still removable for easy cleaning and other maintenance.
Screw Retained Denture
Another option involves placing six or more implants in your jaw and attaching a permanent denture. It doesn’t touch the gum tissue, which allows you to clean underneath the denture without removing it. This denture will replace all of your missing lower teeth and will not be removed except at maintenance visits. Although cleaning underneath your denture without removing it can be more time consuming, many prefer this option.
Individual Dental Implants
The final option is to have all of your teeth individually replaced by dental implants so that they will appear to be growing out of your gum tissue and will most closely resemble the appearance of natural teeth. This option requires eight or more dental implants. Separate abutments or support posts for each dental implant will need to be made, and crowns for each missing tooth will need to be placed. The teeth are often joined together to increase strength and support. This may be the most costly option, however, as it requires the most dental implants, parts, and crowns.
Missing All Upper Teeth
If you are missing all of your upper teeth instead, a similar range of treatment options is available. However, because the bone of the upper jaw is not as hard as that in the lower jaw, patients often need more dental implants placed to support their new replacement teeth. Depending on the number of dental implants that need to be placed, it may be possible to eliminate the need to cover the roof of your mouth with a complete denture, giving you a better ability to fully taste food and sense its temperature. In addition, your denture will feel much more natural.