Overdenture Implants

Dr. Erica Aand
Written by
Dr. Erica Aand
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Evidence Based
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What are Overdentures?

People with several or all missing teeth understand the struggle with dentures slipping during speaking or loosening while laughing. An overdenture is a dental prosthetic that eliminates the problems associated with traditional dentures. 

An overdenture is a denture prosthesis supported by implants, so they remain stable and in place. It offers a natural smile that allows you to comfortably eat, laugh, and smile without the worry of a denture moving around. 

An overdenture can ultimately improve a person’s quality of life by acting as natural teeth.

5 Types of Overdentures

Overdenture implants can be fixed in place or removable depending on your needs and budget. Both types are significantly more comfortable and esthetic than a regular denture and help improve a person’s oral health by preventing further bone loss and supporting nutritional needs. 

Implant-Supported Overdentures

Implant-supported dentures are a type of overdenture that uses four or six implants screwed into the mandibular and maxillary jawbone. They help retain your existing bone to prevent further deterioration. This will help improve bone stability and offer a more youthful appearance. 

An implant-supported overdenture typically requires two minor procedures: one to place the implant into the jawbone and one to uncover the implant so a custom prosthetic can be fabricated. It can be removed when it's time to sleep or when it needs to be cleaned by the patient.

Fixed Implant-Supported Overdenture 

A fixed implant-supported overdenture is similar to a removable one, but it is locked in place by screws and cannot be removed by the patient. You would need your dentist to gently unscrew the prosthetic to remove it. 

removable full implant denture

This option offers a person the greatest, permanent support for the edentulous patient. The only downside is it is typically the most expensive option as it needs four dental implants and uses screws as abutments. 

Bar Retained Implant-Supported Overdentures

A bar-retained implant-supported overdenture uses a bar attached to the denture that helps clip onto the implants. It allows the denture to clip on and off the implants as needed but offers more security than a conventional denture. Most people will only remove the overdenture to clean and sleep. 

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Ball Retained Implant-Supported Overdentures

Ball retained implants are an excellent solution for the lower arch, where usually two or four implants are inserted in the jawbone. 

A ball retained overdenture is one where the abutment that connects from the implant to the denture is ball-shaped. It provides stability and improved functionality compared to a traditional denture. 

Additionally, ball attachments make it easier to clean and simple to change parts if replacements are needed.

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Overdenture Partials

Sometimes people are missing only a few teeth and need a partial denture. Similar to a full denture, it is usually removable and comes with some drawbacks like putting pressure on existing neighboring teeth.

An overdenture partial does exactly what a complete implant-retained denture does. It replaces teeth with one or more implants, making them easier to clean. There is also less worry about it slipping. 

An overdenture partial helps distribute chewing forces more equally and gives a natural appearance compared to a traditional partial denture. 

3d render of implant partial denture

Overdenture Procedure Steps

Your dentist or surgeon will review all the steps of the implant and overdenture process. Just as you would need a single implant, an overdenture initially has the same steps.

  1. Consultation. Discuss with your dentist all of your needs, concerns, and budget. Your dentist will perform a comprehensive examination and thoroughly review your medical and dental history. Typically, photographs, impressions, and 3-D Cone Beam radiographs are taken to determine your bone heights and if you need any additional surgeries like bone grafting or sinus augmentation.
  2. Implant placement: Your dentist will get you numb using a local anesthetic. Sometimes a 3-D surgical guide helps your dentist navigate where to place the implants ideally. Two or four titanium implants are screwed into the jaw bone. Stitches are placed to help you heal.
  3. Healing process. You need to heal over the next three to six months before your implants can be exposed. It takes time for osseointegration to take place. 
  4. Healing cap. Once you are healed, your dentist will expose the implants, and a healing cap is placed to help guide where the abutment and prosthetic will go. 
  5. Impression. Scanning or traditional impressions will help with the fabrication of your overdenture. It will be sent to the lab for the denture framework and artificial teeth to be made. 
  6. Insertion. Once the overdenture is made, your dentist will try it in and make any necessary modifications. If it fits well, the teeth are permanently secured in place. Post-care instructions will be given to you on how to take care of your new prosthetic. 

Standard Dentures vs. Overdentures

A standard denture and overdenture are two very different types of prosthetics. The single common denominator between them is that they replace missing teeth. 

Standard dentures are removable, affordable, and quick solutions to replace missing teeth. The acrylic denture helps restore function and aesthetics and is used when people want to eat more comfortably. A complete denture will fit over the bony ridge but may become loose over time because of bone deterioration. 

Over time, a lower jaw with no teeth experiences bone resorption. This causes a denture wearer to experience a loose denture that needs frequent relines and repairs. When mandibular implants are placed, it causes the denture to remain stable and improve patient satisfaction.  

Overdentures are typically permanent and cannot dislodge easily. They are stable and give much greater confidence and comfort than a standard denture. Overdentures are very costly and an excellent, lifelong investment into your oral and overall health. 

Unlike a standard denture, an overdenture helps retain the jawbone by strengthening it. It helps provide a more youthful look than a regular denture and encourages bone regeneration instead of bone deterioration. 

Pros and Cons of Overdentures

The advantages of an overdenture are endless. Many people will use a standard denture as a stepping stone until they can afford an overdenture or their medical health qualifies for implants. 

The most common benefits include:

  • A permanent solution to missing teeth
  • Greater confidence eating, smiling, and laughing
  • Preserves jaw bone and keeps a youthful look
  • No risk of dislodgement like a denture
  • Creates a more natural appearance
  • Can practice improved oral hygiene

The main downside of an overdenture is the high cost, and you need a sufficient amount of bone for implant success.

How Much Does an Overdenture Cost? 

Overdenture cost can vary based on the type of dental specialist (cosmetic dentist versus prosthodontist), how many implants you need, and the materials of the overdenture.

Typically, an overdenture arch can cost up to $25,000. 

Alternative Treatment Options

Tooth loss is a challenge, but there are many treatment plans if an overdenture is not the right fit for you:

  • Removable denture. A full arch denture can help provide greater confidence and comfort from missing teeth. It can restore your oral health and function. 
  • Partial denture. A partial denture helps prevent your adjacent teeth from shifting. It can restore function and aesthetics to one or more missing teeth. 
  • Dental bridge. A bridge is a good solution for people wanting a permanent, non-removable prosthetic. A bridge can help restore function to missing teeth with a long-lasting dental restoration. 

Resources

Hameed NASA. Inserting retention plastic caps to ball implant supported overdenture: easy chair side technique. J Dent Health Oral Disord Ther. 2015;2(5):165-169. DOI: 10.15406/jdhodt.2015.02.00064.

Muftu, A. and S. Karabetou. Complications in implant supported overdentures. Compend Contin Educ Dent 1997. 18:493504. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9533361/.

Freeman, C., I. Brook, and R. Joshi. Long term follow-up of implant stabilized overdentures.Eur J Prosthodont Restor Dent 2001. 9:147–150. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12192952/.

Payne, A. G. and Y. F. Solomons. Mandibular implant supported overdentures: a prospective evaluation of the burden of prosthodontic maintenance with three different attachment systems.Int J Prosthodont 2000. 13:246–253. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11203640/.

Doundoulakis JH, Eckert SE, Lindquist CC, Jeffcoat MK. The implant-supported overdenture as an alternative to the complete mandibular denture. Journal of the American Dental Association (1939). 2003 Nov;134(11):1455-1458. DOI: 10.14219/jada.archive.2003.0073.

Takanashi, Yoshiaki & Penrod, John & Lund, James & Feine, Jocelyne. (2004). A cost comparison of mandibular two-implant overdenture and conventional denture treatment. The International journal of prosthodontics. 17. 181-6. 10.1016/j.prosdent.2004.06.016.

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