Denture Stabilization

Single-tooth dental implants rely on a dental implant post that is surgically implanted in the jaw to support an artificial tooth known as a dental crown, creating a structure that looks and acts like a healthy, natural tooth. While these single-tooth dental implants are the most effective type of dental implant restoration, replacing multiple missing teeth with individual dental implants requires a more invasive surgery, and the cost of multiple implants and implant crowns can add up quickly. When dental implants are used to stabilize dentures, however, the durability and stability of dental implants is combined with the affordability of dentures. Dentures can be a suitable option for patients who wish to replace multiple missing teeth at a reasonable cost, but many people find that dentures can be uncomfortable, slipping and rubbing against the gum tissue and interfering with eating and speaking. Denture stabilization solves these issues, holding dentures firmly and securely in place for a fraction of the cost of traditional dental implants.

Traditional dentures sit on top of the gums above the bone and are supported by an acrylic base that resembles the gum tissue and denture adhesive that affixes this base to the gums. In a denture stabilization procedure, an oral surgeon will place a minimal number of dental implants into the jawbone and then use these implants to support a denture far more securely and comfortably than adhesives can. A dental implant is a small post made of titanium or zirconium that is implanted directly into the jawbone, underneath the gum tissue. As the bone that surrounds the implant post heals after insertion, the bone fuses with the implant post, creating a long-lasting bond that can support a denture or other dental restoration for years with the proper care. This process is called osseointegration, and it is a crucial part of the long-term success of dental implants. The bond created by implant and bone also benefits the overall health of the jawbone, as the implant continues to stimulate healthy bone tissue and helps prevent the bone loss that occurs when a natural tooth is removed. Once the implant sites have healed, the implants support a denture with attachment abutments that are affixed to the implants. This procedure can also be used for other types of dental restorations, like bridges, when a more permanent outcome is desired. Some of these restorations are affixed permanently to the implants, while others can be clipped onto the implants and snapped off for cleaning and maintenance.

The two most commonly used types of stabilized dentures are ball-retained dentures and bar-retained dentures. Ball-retained dentures rely on a metal stud that protrudes from the top of the dental implant; the corresponding denture includes small sockets that snap onto these studs, holding the denture in place. Bar-retained dentures use a more complex apparatus that includes a metal bar, supported by dental implants, that curves around the jaw and is used to support the denture, which hooks over the bar and clips to the implants. The type of denture your dentist uses will depend on the amount of available bone in your jaw, your personal preferences, your clinical needs, and your budget. Some types of stabilized dentures can be supported by as few as two dental implant posts, while others may require as many as five. Either way, stabilized dentures use considerably fewer implants than would be required for a traditional implant crown restoration, in which each missing tooth is replaced with an implant, resulting in a less-invasive and less-expensive surgical procedure. This can be especially beneficial for people with inconsistent bone density, as it allows the oral surgeon to strategically place implant posts in areas where the bone is healthiest and most stable. In some cases, an existing denture may be able to be retrofitted to accommodate dental implants for stabilization, reducing cost even more, though not every existing denture can be thusly modified.

Denture stabilization can help restore a person’s ability to chew a variety of foods, helping with digestion and encouraging a healthy, balanced diet, and it can solve the problems of muddled speech that can come along with traditional dentures. Stabilized dentures are more comfortable than their removable counterparts, and they are also easier to clean and maintain than traditional dentures. When the denture is permanently attached to the implant posts, the oral cavity can be cleaned by brushing and flossing, especially at the gum line, and when the denture is the type that snaps on and off, the denture is cleaned outside the mouth while the soft tissues inside the oral cavity are brushed and rinsed. Denture stabilization can also prevent the irritation and sores that can be caused by a removable denture that rubs against the gums.

In light of the potential costs or prolonged treatment time for dental restorations like dental implants, some people may choose to leave missing teeth alone and not replace them at all. This is never a good idea, even for people who don’t care what their smile looks like. The reality is that the teeth and their roots help support the shape and structures of the face, and when the natural teeth fall out or are extracted, the structures of the lower face begin to deteriorate. This can create an artificially elderly appearance, and it can also interfere with the ability to eat comfortably and speak clearly, sometimes significantly. Missing teeth can also cause dental hygiene complications that can lead to even larger problems, like the loss of more teeth and the deterioration of the bone in the jaw, and that could even encourage potentially dangerous infection. If you’re hoping to replace multiple missing teeth, ask your dentist about your options for dental restoration. If you already wear dentures, ask if these existing appliances can be modified for denture stabilization with implants. Even if they can’t, getting a new stabilized denture could solve many of the issues that often accompany denture wearing and can provide a reliable, fixed solution for a variety of clinical situations at a reasonable cost.

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