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What do you think of when you hear the word “dentures?” Is it a set of removable teeth that sits in a glass when not in use? That type of removable denture does still exist, but these days there's a far better alternative: Implant-supported fixed dentures.
An implant-supported fixed denture is a lifelike set of false teeth — complete with prosthetic gum tissue — that stays in your mouth all the time. It is securely and comfortably anchored by several dental implants that become an integral part of your jawbone once inserted during a minor surgical procedure done in the dental office.
Implant-supported fixed dentures are ideal for people who have experienced deterioration of the gums and jawbone, which is an inevitable effect of tooth loss. Bone is a living tissue that needs constant stimulation to maintain its volume and density. That stimulation normally comes from the teeth; when they are lost, the bone that used to surround and support them starts to break down. If this is allowed to continue, your facial features may begin to sag — giving you a more aged appearance (View Example). Unfortunately, wearing removable dentures actually accelerates this process; but wearing fixed dentures halts it — while restoring the underlying support to your facial features (cheeks and lips) that your jawbone structure used to provide. This will make you look younger. Learn more about fixed vs. removable dentures.
How It Works
A dental implant is a small, screw-shaped post that serves as a replacement tooth root. Like a natural tooth root, it is housed in the bone beneath the gum. Implants are made of titanium, which has a unique ability to fuse to bone in a process called osseointegration. That's what makes implants so sturdy and reliable (Learn More).
Today's state-of-the-art implant systems enable a minimum number of implants to support a maximum number of teeth. That means as few as four implants can be used to support a full arch (upper or lower jaw) of fixed, non-removable replacement teeth. What's more, it is sometimes possible to accomplish this remarkable, life-changing process in just one day!
Implant-supported dentures offer a more efficient and cost-effective strategy for permanent tooth replacement than using a single dental implant for every missing tooth, which is impractical and not recommended — particularly where bone loss has occurred. In order to restore the natural proportions of your teeth and gums with less bone volume, we need to create a lifelike prosthesis (replacement) that contains both teeth and gums; otherwise, any permanent replacement teeth would look overly long.
What to Expect
Three-dimensional (3-D) x-rays of your jaw may be taken to pinpoint the location of anatomical structures such as bone, sinuses and nerves. This will enable us to determine how many implants you need and the ideal location for them. For each implant we will need to make a small channel in the bone. You will feel nothing during the implant-placement surgery, which usually requires only local anesthesia. We will discuss your individual anesthesia options with you beforehand and make sure you are comfortable.
Once your implants are in place, we will attach a temporary set of teeth, which stays in your mouth approximately three months until the implants are fully fused to your bone and healing is completed. Because implant surgery is very precise and well-planned, people generally have little post-operative discomfort and begin functioning with their new temporary teeth almost immediately. However, it's a good idea to avoid crunchy, chewy or tough foods for at least six to eight weeks.
When the process of osseointegration is complete, we attach permanent teeth that fit your healed gum tissues more precisely than the temporary ones did. With these teeth you can eat anything you want — and they will look as good as they feel! Your new teeth will require the same care as natural teeth: daily brushing and flossing, and regular checkups and professional cleanings. With conscientious oral hygiene, implant-supported fixed dentures should last a lifetime.
The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth For those missing even one tooth, an unsightly gap is actually the least significant problem. What's of far greater concern is the bone loss that inevitably follows tooth loss. Dental implants can preserve bone, improve function and enhance psychological well-being. Learn how implants serve both as anchors to support replacement teeth and preserve bone... Read Article