Implant Retained Dentures
Implants, as mentioned elsewhere, are quite effective in retaining an otherwise non retentive denture. A titanium "screw
" is actually placed into a hole drilled into the bone to approximate the position of teeth. After several months, the titanium has integrated (attached) into the bone, and the implant
is then uncovered and a post which "pokes
" through the gums into the mouth is attached to the implant. This post may support a porcelain tooth, or it may support an attachment for a denture.
If the patient has NO teeth at all in any given arch (upper or lower), a full mouth of individual implants attached to porcelain teeth and bridges
could cost about what an expensive automobile costs. On the other hand, a minimum of 2 implants can maintain a lower denture which would not otherwise be tolerated by that patient.
More than two implants are needed for upper implant retained dentures. Although the dentures that fit over implants are considerably more expensive than standard dentures, they offer the added advantage of allowing upper dentures
to be built in the shape of an arch instead of having to cover the entire palate. This is of special significance to people who otherwise cannot wear full dentures because they make them gag.
Implant retained dentures have special significance for people who cannot wear lower dentures. As an edentulous (toothless) person ages, and the bone continues to resorb away, lower ridges frequently disappear entirely. Thus there is no vertical bone underlying the gums to stabilize a lower denture. These people frequently cannot wear a lower denture at all. The addition of two implants in the front of the lower jaw can make it possible to retain a lower denture which would otherwise be impossible for the patient to tolerate.
The image on the left below shows a pair of ball attachments on implants, and the denture that fits over them is shown in the image on the right.