There are two types of implant-supported dentures: bar-retained and ball-retained.
In both cases, the denture will be made of an acrylic base that will look like gums.Porcelain or acrylic teeth that look like natural teeth are attached to the base.
Both types of dentures need at least two implants for support.
Bar-retained dentures - A thin metal bar that follows the curve of your jaw is attached to two to five implants that have been placed in your jawbone. Clips or other types of attachments are fitted to the bar, the denture or both. The denture fits over the bar and is securely clipped into place by the attachments.
Ball-retained dentures (stud-attachment dentures) - Each implant in the jawbone holds a metal attachment that fits into another attachment on the denture. In most cases, the attachments on the implants are ball-shaped ("male" attachments), and they fit into sockets ("female" attachments) on the denture. In some cases, the denture holds the male attachments and the implants hold the female ones.
During the exam, the dentist will review your medical and dental histories, take X-rays and create impressions of your teeth and gums so that models can be made.
In some cases, the dentist may order a computed tomography (CT) scan of your mouth.
This shows where your sinuses (located above your upper teeth) and nerves are. It allows the dentist to make sure they will not be affected by the implant placement.
A CT scan also may be done to see how much bone is available and to determine the best locations for the implants.
If you are not already wearing a complete denture to replace your missing teeth, your dentist will make you one.
You will use this temporary denture until the implant-supported denture is placed.
By making this temporary denture, your dentist is able to determine the best position for the teeth in the final denture.
The temporary denture also can be used as a backup if something happens to the final implant-supported denture.
The temporary denture can also be used as the final denture to reduce overall costs.
Attachments will need to be added so it can fit securely to the implants.
Once the temporary denture is finished, the surgeon will use a copy of it as a guide to help place the implants in the proper positions.
Holes will be drilled in the copy of the denture so that the surgeon can see where the implants should be placed.
The first surgery involves placing the implants in the jawbone. During the first surgery, an incision is made in the gum where the implant will be placed. A hole is drilled in the bone, the implant is placed into the hole, and the incision is stitched closed. After this surgery, you should avoid putting pressure on the implants. The temporary denture can be made so that direct pressure is placed on other areas, not on the implants. It may also be given a soft reline (new lining next to your gums) to help to reduce the pressure on your gums. After the first surgery, the dentist will wait till the bone and the implants integrate (attach and fuse).
Once the implants have become fused with the bone, the second visit can be scheduled. Your dentist will confirm whether the implant is ready by taking an X-ray. A healing cap (collar) is placed on the head of each implant after it is exposed. This guides the gum tissue to heal correctly. The collar is a round piece of metal that holds the gums away from the head of the implant. After about two weeks, the healing caps will be replaced with regular abutments. Your gums should now be healed enough for your dentist to make an impression of your gum tissue and abutments. The impression is used to make a working model of your abutments and jaw. This model is used to make the denture framework and teeth.
At this point, the metal bar is placed on the abutments. You will have the first try-in of your new denture framework to see if it fits properly. Once the metal bar and the denture framework have been fitted together properly, the teeth are temporarily placed on the framework in wax. The whole denture is then tried in your mouth. If everything works well, the teeth are secured in the denture framework permanently. The bar or ball attachments also will be secured. You will have to return to your dentist for another visit to have the completed denture inserted. When the denture is inserted, the denture is clipped onto the bar or snapped onto the ball attachments. At this point, your temporary denture will be given a new reline. This will allow it to be used as a backup denture in case you lose or break your new overdenture. If you are using the "temporary" denture as a permanent denture, the bar or ball attachments are placed in that denture.
You will need to remove the denture at at night and for cleaning. You also should carefully clean around the attachments.
An X-ray will show the implants in the jaw and any attachments to them x-rays help the dentist to see that the implants, abutments and attachments are in the right places.
Your implant-supported denture will be more stable than a regular denture. You will find it easier to speak and you won't have to worry about the denture becoming loose or falling out of your mouth.
You generally will be able to eat foods you could not eat before. If you have an implant-supported denture in your upper jaw, it can be made to cover less of your palate (roof of your mouth) than a regular denture.
That's because the implants are holding it in place instead of the suction created between the full denture and your palate.