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What does the term “two-implant overdentures” mean?
For more than a century, complete dentures were the only care option for edentulous (toothless) people. As a solution, these left a lot to be desired, particularly for the lower jaw. Now dental technology has developed a better alternative that combines two strategically placed dental implants and a traditional lower denture that has been modified to fit over the two implants — thus the term.
What are the problems with traditional dentures?
The problem is that when you lose teeth, the bone that supported the missing teeth begins to shrink away. This is known as resorption, and it is the reason that dentures fitted too soon after teeth are lost quickly become loose. Bone loss happens most rapidly during the first year and is four times greater in the lower jaw than in the upper.
Why not just use dental adhesives to hold dentures tightly to the lower jaw?
Zinc, a major ingredient in most dental adhesives, has been associated with neurological disorders and may be unsafe. In addition, dental adhesives are expensive and the cost of frequent usage adds up.
Besides dental adhesives, are other health problems associated with dentures?
Yes, edentulism has been related to poor nutrition. Many edentulous people switch to soft foods with high fat content because they find healthier foods like vegetables and proteins difficult to chew.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are replacements for the roots of teeth, the parts that are below the gumline and anchored in bone. They are usually covered with a crown that shows above the line of the gums.
What are the benefits of implants?
Most importantly, implants reduce the amount of bone resorption. Studies have shown about 75% less resorption in parts of the jaw with implants compared to areas without them. Since most of the bone loss occurs within the first year after tooth loss, it is important to place implants within this time period.
Is a complete set of dental implants a good solution for edentulism?
Yes, it can be a good solution, but it is not for everyone. Some patients, who have lost a great deal of bone support, need another solution for cosmetic reasons that offer more facial support like an implant overdenture. In addition, depending on their resources and insurance, some people require a less expensive solution.
Why does the two-implant overdenture work better for the lower jaw?
Based on differences in bone volume, density and other factors, we think that four to six implants are needed to retain an upper implant overdenture. Thus a two-implant overdenture is a good solution to consider for a lower jaw, but other options might be preferred for an upper jaw.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dentures and implants. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Implant Overdentures for the Lower Jaw.”
Of all the of amazing procedures in today's dentistry, surgery that causes new bone to grow — in places where it had previously been lost — is high on the list of the most extraordinary. (When bone is lost or resorbed, it is broken down into its mineral components, which are dissolved into the bloodstream. Resorption of tooth-supporting bone often takes place after teeth are lost.) Dental techniques that cause new bone growth are important because a certain amount of bone is needed to replace lost teeth with dental implants.
Today's dental implants themselves are an amazing innovation. Implants consist of a replacement for the tooth's root, usually made of a metal called titanium. A replacement for the crown, the part of the tooth that is visible above the gums, is attached to the titanium root. Titanium has the remarkable quality of being able to fuse with the bone in which it is anchored. This process, first discovered in the 1950s, is called osseointegration.
In the case of missing upper back teeth, many people who wanted dental implants in the past were told that they did not have enough bone to anchor the implants and that they had to get removable dentures instead.
But now a new surgery called maxillary sinus augmentation can cause your body to regenerate bone where it was lost and is needed to anchor dental implants.
Bone in the upper jaw or maxilla usually supports your upper back teeth. Inside the maxilla, on either side of your upper jaw, are air spaces in the bone, which are lined with a membrane. These spaces, called the maxillary sinuses, are generally shaped like pyramids; but their shape and size is different in each person. The new surgical procedures involve lifting up the sinus membrane in the area where bone is needed and filling the space thus created with a bone grafting material. Your body then creates new bone to fill the space. This usually takes about six months. If you have almost enough bone to stabilize the implants, they can be placed simultaneously with the graft, thus saving time and avoiding a second surgical procedure.
All grafting materials used today are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and must be prepared according to their guidelines. They are specially treated to render them completely safe for human use.
After the surgery there is usually no more than mild to moderate swelling and some discomfort, about the same as having a tooth removed.
If you are missing upper back teeth, contact us to schedule an appointment to evaluate your upper jaw. You can also learn more about this procedure by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sinus Surgery.”
Modern dental implants not only help you maintain your normal chewing ability and speech patterns after you have lost a tooth or teeth — they also keep you looking younger. How do they do this? Read on.
Do lost teeth cause tooth-supporting bone to “melt” away? Yes. Of course, the bone does not actually melt. Bone is a living tissue, and under normal conditions it constantly dissolves and rebuilds. Stimulation by the small stresses from the contact of upper and lower teeth — something that normally happens hundreds of times each day — keeps these two forces in balance. When a tooth is missing, the bone that normally surrounds and supports the tooth (called alveolar bone) no longer receives the stimulation that causes it to rebuild, and it begins to diminish over time.
What happens if you don't replace missing teeth? The first year after a tooth is lost, the width of the bone that once surrounded the tooth decreases by 25 percent. Over the years, gradually increasing bone loss results in sunken cheeks and lips, making you look older. Gum tissue also decreases, affecting your ability to chew and speak.
What happens if you lose all your teeth? For people who have lost all their teeth, called edentulous, the effects are severe. After the alveolar bone is lost, the bone beneath it, called basal bone, also begins to be resorbed, eventually causing the lower part of the face to partially collapse.
Do partial or full dentures prevent bone loss? Unfortunately, just the contrary is true. A removable denture pressing on a person's gum increases bone loss because the pressures from biting are not transferred into the internal structure of the bone but instead are compressive, which damages the bone over time. This is why dentures begin to fit poorly after they have been worn for a while. This problem can be reduced by anchoring dentures with strategically placed dental implants.
What is a dental implant? A dental implant is a tooth-root replacement that is made of titanium. This metal is able to osseointegrate, or fuse with the bone. For a single tooth replacement, a crown that looks and functions like natural tooth is attached to the titanium implant. As mentioned above, implants can also be used to anchor dentures.
Does an implant prevent bone loss? Yes. When dental implants fuse to the jaw bone, they stabilize the bone. They also provide tooth-to-tooth stimulation that was formerly supplied by the natural tooth.
How long do dental implants last? Dental implants have been shown to last at least 10 years. For most people, implants will last the rest of their lives.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth loss and dental implants. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
Dental implants are in much demand when it comes to replacing missing teeth. And although they have long-term success rates of well over 95% when properly placed, the dental profession's current rule-of-thumb is to not use them as a treatment option for teenagers because jaw and facial growth are not complete.
As with most things in life, timing can be everything. However, having missing teeth as a teen can contribute to significant loss of self-esteem and psychological issues. All this means is that we must review each patient's needs on a case-by-case basis so that we can determine the optimal time to place implants while maintaining your teen's self-esteem. However, the good news is that there are some temporary tooth replacements available until the timing is right for implants.
Unlike natural teeth, which move and change position along with normal growth and jaw development, implants don't. Because implants replace tooth roots by fusing with the jawbone, their position is fixed. If placed before normal jaw growth and maturity are complete, they appear to sink as the jaws grow and leave them behind!
Given the above details, you can clearly see why it is critical for jaw and facial growth to be complete prior to placing a dental implant. To determine this timeline, we will work with our dental team, which include orthodontists (specialist in the study of the growth, development and moving teeth into the right positions). Working together, we will best be able to assess when the time is right to plan and place dental implants — usually around late teens.
To learn more on this subject, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teenagers & Dental Implants.” You can also contact us today to schedule an appointment for your teenager or to discuss your questions about dental implants or other treatment options.