One common service we provide to our patients who wear dentures is to upgrade them to implant-supported dentures. If you don’t know (or can’t guess from the name), these are simply dentures that are connected to and stabilized by four dental implants.
Implant-supported dentures offer aesthetic and functional advantages over conventional dentures; including a long lifespan, and the prevention of bone loss. If you’re interested in getting dental implants to support your existing dentures (or if you need to get dentures and would like to get implants at the same time), and are wondering about the process involved, this article is for you!
Step One: Examination
The first step is for you to come in for a preliminary exam. This detailed examination is made to assess whether implants are suitable for you. Implants take support from the jaw bone, and hence, bone quality must be good. Diabetics and those suffering from non-curable diseases are typically not able to have dental implants placed (though there are exceptions). At this time, we will propose a plan, and give you a cost estimate, which will be finalized in consultation with you.
Step Two: Bone Grafting (optional)
If you do not have sufficient quality or quantity of jaw bone to embed an implant, a bone grafting procedure may be required. This procedure needs surgery and may take a few months to heal. If you do have sufficient bone (which an x-ray will reveal) then this step is not necessary (which is often the case).
Step Three: Extractions
Sometimes, infected or mobile teeth need to be extracted, so as to provide you with an implant-supported denture or bridge. Dental extractions are done prior to the placement of implants, so that bone can replenish.
Step Four: Placing the Implants
Finally, the big moment! We will drill tiny holes into your jaw at the selected locations and broaden them gradually to the right diameter. Next, we will insert the implants into those holes. The gum will be stitched over it and left for a few months to allow for osseo-integration.
Step Five: Restoration
While the healing of the implant placement site is underway, your dentures will be prepared for you in the laboratory. As soon as the healing has finished (which can vary from person to person), they will be attached to your implants, so that you can start eating and speaking again normally.
How Many Implants are Required to Support a Denture in Each Jaw?
The best thing about implant-supported dentures is that only four implants can be used in each jaw to support a complete denture. These four implants provide excellent support and retention to the fixed or removable dentures that are placed over them, thereby improving oral functions and aesthetics, but also preventing bone loss which is otherwise seen in case of conventional dentures.