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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 or sneezing. 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 the 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 more readily than traditional dentures. 

Implant-Supported Overdentures

Implant-supported dentures are a type of overdenture that use 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 surgical procedures: one to place the implant into the jawbone and one to uncover the implant so a custom prosthetic can be fabricated. The implant-supported overdenture 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 the most stable option for the edentulous patient. However, it is a challenge to clean because only a dentist can remove it. It is also 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 has a bar attached to the implants that the denture can clip onto. 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 tooth roots with one or more implants, so that the partial can clip onto the implants.

An overdenture partial gives a more 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 with you. The surgical process is similar to the placement of a single implant to replace just one tooth.

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. Multiple 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. This process can take several appointments.

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. 

In particular, 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 but an excellent, lifelong investment into your oral and overall health. 

Unlike a standard denture, an overdenture helps provide a more youthful look than a regular denture and minimizes 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 allows them to have implant surgery. 

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

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 if you are 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. 
  • 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. 
Last updated on May 11, 2022
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on May 11, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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  2. Muftu, A. and S. Karabetou. Complications in implant supported overdentures. Compend Contin Educ Dent 1997. 18:493504. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9533361/.
  3. 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/.
  4. 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/.
  5. 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 . 2003 Nov;134:1455-1458. DOI: 10.14219/jada.archive.2003.0073.
  6. Takanashi, Yoshiaki & Penrod, John & Lund, James & Feine, Jocelyne. . 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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