While dental implants can be the perfect solution for one or more single missing teeth, there are also excellent solutions for multiple missing teeth that are supported by implants. In fact, there are four main kinds of denture implants that are capable of replacing a whole mouth full of teeth. From fixed to removable denture implants, there is a full array of options to choose from. Below you will find information on various options for both fixed and removable denture implants.
Fixed Denture Implants
Fixed denture implants are appliances that are permanently affixed in the mouth and do not have to be removed for cleaning or repairs. There are two kinds of fixed denture implants, both of which are fully outlined here:
Fixed implant-supported bridges are the more durable and attractive of the two forms of fixed denture implants. Relying upon anywhere from four to eight implant fixtures, these denture implants also include either a full or partial bridge. This is the piece that contains the prosthetic teeth and gumline to provide a natural appearance along with the function that they provide. Fixed implant-supported bridges also showcase prosthetic teeth made of porcelain, zirconium or some other hybrid composite, making them incredibly strong and durable. While the cost is higher than that of the classic “all on 4” implant-supported dentures, they are also longer lasting as they can continue to function even if one of the implants fails with time.
Fixed implant-supported dentures, frequently referred to as “all on 4” dentures, typically rely upon four implant fixtures but can also include a larger number of implant fixtures. Like fixed implant-supported bridges, implant supported dentures are designed to be a non-removable fixture in the mouth. Because they rely upon less implant fixtures, they also don’t support as many teeth, which means that the back 1-2 teeth are usually not reproduced in implant-supported dentures.
Additionally, while some patients are drawn to the slightly lower cost of all on four dentures, the materials used in the creation of the prosthetic teeth are of a lesser quality; acrylic rather than porcelain or zirconium, which makes them more susceptible to damage over time. Furthermore, the reliance upon a lesser number of implant fixtures means that if even one of those implants loses its integrity, the dentures might not function as well as before.
Removable Denture Implants
While fixed denture implants are preferred by some patients, others appreciate the flexibility of removable denture implants which can repaired and thoroughly cleaned more easily. These include the following options:
Implant-supported overdentures function much like the implant-supported dentures but, unlike that fixed option, are removable. They sometimes include a metal bar supported by the four implant fixtures that the overdenture connects with, and also have a higher prosthetic gumline to cover the area where the dentures meet the natural gumline for those whose natural smile reveals more of their gums. While the cost is similar to implant-supported dentures or even higher, implant-supported overdentures are less costly to repair.
Finally, implant-retained overdentures are more of a hybrid between traditional dentures and implant-supported dentures. Rather than four to eight implant fixtures providing the base of support here, a mere two implant fixtures can be used in this case (some dentists prefer to use more implant fixtures for additional support). These are the most cost-effective of all of the implant dentures but are also less stable and have a greater potential to cause discomfort for their wearer over time.
For more information and a one-on-one consultation, call your dentist to begin exploring this tooth replacement option.