Comparing Implant Supported Dentures with Implant Retained Dentures: A Comprehensive Guide

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It’s normal to get confused while deciding the right teeth replacement option, as many denture options exist.

After reading this article, we hope that deciding between conventional and implant-retained dentures will be easier.

According to Statista Reports, 40.99 million Americans were using different types of dentures in 2022, and the number is expected to increase to 42.46 million in 2024. Implant dentistry is gaining popularity both within and outside the US.

Conventional dentures fail to offer stability, especially when the patient has undergone massive bone resorption.

Dentures are supposed to function like natural teeth. Considering this, implant-retained dentures offer remarkable stability, retention, and support and will not fall out during function. 

Let’s learn about the two together and decide which one is better, considering all the pros and cons.

Why is there A Need For Dentures? 

Teeth loss has many downsides other than the basic smile loss. You’ll experience many facial changes, which drastically change your overall appearance. 

With the loss of teeth, youth bone starts to resorb. It’s the bone that carries the attachment points for many facial muscles. Since there’s bone loss, your muscles begin to lose and sag, instantly aging your appearance. 

This loss of support also causes your lips to thin, and they appear less defined than normal. 

With further bone resorption, your chin may appear more pronounced, resulting in a “witch chin,” further contributing to your aged look. 

Bones loss

The story of tooth loss goes far beyond aesthetics. Apart from losing your aesthetics, you’ll see a loss in your overall health as well.

Without teeth, you’d not be able to eat whatever you like, thereby facing nutritional deficiencies and an overall decline in health. 

You can now choose between implant-retained dentures and traditional dentures to fix the issues you face with tooth loss.

 A Basic Insight On Implant Retained Dentures Vs. Conventional Dentures

Different denture types have various pros and cons. While conventional dentures rely on suction and muscle support for stability and retention, implant-retained dentures rely on bone health. 

Although conventional dentures are cost-effective and won’t burden your pockets as much, they would hurt your health. Massive bone loss and facial changes will happen should you choose conventional dentures and can’t be avoided.

The process of crafting conventional dentures is comparatively easier than making implant-retained dentures. 

Traditional dentures are made by capturing the oral anatomy through oral impressions, which are then sent to the laboratory for further processing.

In contrast, constructing implant retained dentures require an additional step which is the placement of implant titanium screws inside the bone before fabrication of the denture.

Implant Retained versus Implant Supported Dentures: What’s The Difference Between The Two?  

Both types of dentures rely on dental implants. However, there appear to be some significant differences between them.

An implant-retained denture has two to four implants that snap onto the denture and are retained by those implants.

The implants are placed in the jawbone with adequate bone height and width. They can still come and go and show some movement during functions. 

Implant-supported dentures, also known as overdentures, where implants which are screws, are put down inside the jaw.

Overdentures

Usually, six to eight implants are placed in each arch. Such an option can only be opted if the patient owns a good amount of bone through an entire arch. 

The implants inside the bone come in different sizes but stick up through the tissues like balls, allowing dentures to grip on it. Inside the dentures are the receptacles that snap on the little ball attachments sticking up through the gumline. 

When seated on top of implants to replace missing teeth, fixed implant-supported dentures will give a click when seated properly.

The denture is retained tightly on the jaw, so you need not worry about it flopping around or coming out when you are trying to eat or speak. 

Exploring Implant Retained Dentures: An Overview  

Wearing dentures for the first time can be a source of fear and anxiety. You may be stressed about adapting to them, especially if they are conventional dentures. 

If you are a first-time denture wearer looking for a denture type that improves adaptability and confidence, you must choose implant-retained dentures. 

Unlike traditional dentures, implant dentures grip well on your underlying bone, especially in the lower arch, where your tongue and muscles force conventional dentures to displace easily.

Two to four dental implants are surgically placed inside the bone and left to integrate for three months. A denture is then fabricated on top of it. 

The attachments on the implant engage with the fixtures on the underside of the denture, expressing lock and key mechanisms to bring stability. There are two types of fixtures:

Ball Retained Dentures: 

Ball-retained dentures, also known as stud-attachment dentures, utilize small metal balls to engage with mini-implants embedded in the jawbone. 

These fixed implants are strategically placed in the bone to provide maximum stability and support to the denture base with and without function. 

The denture contains special sockets that hold on the metal balls, providing a snug-fit attachment. 

It improves the overall quality of your life and allows you to observe meticulous oral hygiene as it can be removed and reattached easily. 

Bar Retained Dentures: 

Securing dentures through a small metal bar between the implants provides a sturdy foundation for a denture base. 

The denture has clips and clasps to hold the bar, providing a strong anchorage. 

This design type is most desirable as it allows for the universal distribution of chewing and biting forces, preventing strain on an individual implant.

Benefits of Implant Retained Dentures 

Fixed implant retained dentures offer many advantages that should not be ignored if one aims to improve the overall quality of life.

Stability and Comfort: 

As we have discussed, traditional dentures could be better at providing stability. These dentures outweigh them in this regard.

Stability and Comfort: 

The denture is secured tightly with the mini implants anchored inside the jaw bone, preventing slippage and discomfort during essential functions. 

The firm attachment fosters a sense of confidence and ease, helping you not to worry about unwanted movement and instability. 

Restores Bone Health: 

Teeth extraction is followed by bone resorption, as the stimulus previously provided by teeth roots embedded in bone has disappeared. 

The lack of stimulus causes the bone to shrink over time. However, implants serve as a substitute for tooth roots, preserving bone density and volume. 

The mini dental implants, typically 4 in each arch, act like fused tooth roots within the jaw bone. 

It averts the instant sagging of facial muscles, helping you maintain a youthful appearance for a long.

Needs Less Maintainance:

Although traditional dentures require frequent adjustments and alignments due to changes in the structure of the underlying bone, implant-supported dentures are less troublesome. 

Proper care and maintenance will let these dentures last a lifetime with occasional adjustments at a dentist.

Gives A Confidence Boost

Conventional dentures may fall on speaking and eating. This may make you feel embarrassed in your social gatherings.

With ball or bar-retained dentures, you need not worry. As these are screw-retained dentures, they show less mobility on function, hence enhancing your confidence altogether.

This improves patient satisfaction and allows patients to have an effective bite when chewing. 

Dentures Give A Confidence Boost

It allows you to get socially active without being cautious about your artificial teeth.

It will also allow you to eat whatever you like without thinking twice before making food choices. This brings joy and happiness into your life, which is reduced at older ages.

Downsides of Implant Retained Dentures

Demands Several Appointments

In contrast to traditional dentures, getting a permanent solution for all your missing teeth requires more time and money.

Undergoing a full-mouth rehabilitation with the help of dental implants is a multi-step process that requires multiple visits. 

The process begins with a basic consultation with your dentist, who will thoroughly evaluate your oral and physical health.

Factors such as bone density, gum health, and existing medical problems will determine your candidacy for the treatment. 

If you’re deemed a suitable candidate for the procedure, eight implants will be surgically placed into your jawbone.

The process takes two days, and the implants will provide a strong foundation for the dentures.

This is followed by a three-month rest period, during which the implant completely integrates with the bone.

This process is known as osseointegration.

Once the process is done, permanent denture fabrication is started at a dental office after impressions are taken. 

Dentures are More Expensive 

One of the primary concerns associated with implant-retained dentures is their cost. Permanent denture fabrication with implants is a complicated process requiring much money. 

Factors that increase the process cost are the cost of implants, surgical fees, laboratory costs, denture fabrication, and other minor procedures required to provide this solution. 

Although the initial expense might be a financial burden, it is a long-term solution that does not require replacement over the years.

Involves Surgical Procedures 

While dental implant surgery is generally considered safe, patients fear undergoing a surgical procedure.

Certain health conditions pose massive risks to an individual’s health and are not regarded as good for implant-based rehabilitation. 

Patients with compromised immunity, uncontrolled diabetes, and a history of smoking face greater risks, so surgery is deferred in such patients until medical health is achieved.

Although the implant placement procedure has a 97% success rate, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, it’s common to see implant failure and inflammation around implants called periimplantitis in 3% of patients. 

The surgical procedure also accompanies certain pre-operative and post-operative care, which can be difficult to practice if one has strict professional and career commitments.

One such procedure is bone grafting, which improves the quality of bone in the arch before a patient undergoes implant therapy. 

Know Conventional Dentures: An Overview

Conventional or traditional dentures will completely replace your teeth in the upper and lower arch to meet your aesthetics and functional needs.

Dentures

They might not be superior to implant retained dentures, but they may work for you if you adapt. These removable dentures are designed with an acrylic base and acrylic teeth that mimic your natural gums and teeth, respectively. 

These dentures are typically advised to remove at night to provide rest to the tissues on which the denture rests. Continues wearing may cause oral diseases like denture stomatitis and denture hyperplasia

Removable dentures employ various retentive and stability features like suction, adhesives, and clasps to help you better adapt to them.

Although adaptability with such dentures is challenging, you may achieve it sooner if you wear it often. There are primarily two of its types:

Complete Dentures:

These completely replicate your upper and lower arches.

Retention and stability completely depend on your existing bones and muscles. Adhesives and suction can be used to make it stay firm on the basal bone. 

Partial Dentures:

Partial dentures fill the space for a limited number of missing teeth. They are removable and secured with claps to the adjacent teeth in the neighboring space.

Benefits of Conventional Dentures 

Cost Effective 

Conventional dentures are for you if you’re on a budget yet seeking comprehensive tooth replacement options. They are affordable and the most practical option, regardless of circumstances. 

Traditional dentures ensure that essential dental care becomes accessible to larger demographics.

They address individuals with limited financial accessibility or inadequate insurance coverage.

Non-Surgical Process

Conventional denture fabrication often does not require surgery, making it ideal for individuals who don’t qualify for implant surgery or want to avoid invasive procedures. 

Unlike implant dentures, which require implant placement within the jaw bone, conventional dentures employ a conservative approach for tooth replacement.

This process minimizes the risk of complications and reduces the recovery time needed to heal.

Downsides of Conventional Dentures

Limited Stability and Comfort

Although conventional dentures are the most affordable and convenient tooth replacement options, they lack comfort and stability. 

Despite suction and adhesives, conventional dentures can be challenging and may fall off if the leftover bone has resorbed massively over time.

Accelerates Bone Resorption 

Upon function, conventional dentures provide lateral forces on the underlying bone, causing it to resorb.

Over time, the density of bone shrinks, causing your denture to go loose, which once used to fit snugly on your bone. 

It necessitates regular dentist inspection of your denture and oral tissues.

Your dentist may recommend adjusting or relining your existing denture to accommodate the changes in your jaws.

Conventional Dentures Vs. Implant Dentures: Who Wins? 

Choosing between implant dentures and conventional dentures depends on various factors.

These factors include health status, medical conditions, bone density, and financial stability.

Your dentist will guide you about the right choice after conducting oral examinations and investigations like OPG and CBCT. 

However, implant-retained dentures are becoming popular for their huge advantages.

Unlike conventional ones, implant-retained dentures are superior in stability and retention. They give psychological relief and allow one to be more confident while speaking and eating.

These dentures also maintain bone health and structure by stimulating the bone. 

In contrast, conventional dentures are shaky and demand frequent adjustments as bone resorbs over time.

Though this option seems affordable to many, it has health consequences that can’t be reversed later.

FAQs

How long do implant-retained dentures last? 

Implant-retained dentures support the denture and last a lifetime if proper oral health is maintained.

This includes practicing immaculate oral hygiene and visiting your dentist thrice annually to check the health of your implants.

Can you eat anything with implant dentures? 

Initially, you must eat soft foods until you fully recover from the implant procedure.

Ensure you don’t use sticky foods like chewing gums during this period, too.

Once you’re completely recovered, you are allowed to eat whatever you like, no matter if it’s your favorite chicken leg piece.

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