Implants are great for replacing individual teeth, but they can also be used to reconstruct larger areas in which multiple teeth are missing. For example, imagine a span in which four consecutive teeth have been lost. Instead of placing four individual implants, we may opt to place one implant at either end of the toothless area, and then built a bridge between them comprised of four false teeth. In this manner, we’ve effectively replaced four missing teeth using only two implants.
Dental implants may also be used to support complete dentures. A common complaint among denture-wearers is poor retention. That is, despite our best efforts to make dentures sit stably in the mouth, the wearer’s oral anatomy is sometimes not favorable for keeping the dentures firmly in place. As a result, the dentures may rock or become dislodged while eating or speaking. This is especially true of lower dentures. Whereas upper dentures are held in place by suction to the roof of the mouth, lower dentures lack any similar phenomenon. But by placing implants, we can actually make dentures which lock onto those implants, allowing them to be firmly anchored to the jawbone. These so-called overdentures are still removable- they still come in-and-out of the mouth. However, when inserted, they snap onto the implants, such that they won’t become dislodged involuntarily. For patients who already wear dentures but would like to have overdentures, their existing dentures can generally be modified and thereby converted to overdentures after the implants have been placed.
Some patients are missing all their natural teeth, but don’t wish to have removable dentures. For these patients, we can consider permanent implant-supported prosthetics. Like implant-supported dentures, this would allow the patient to have a full set of teeth supported by only a few implants. But unlike dentures, they are less bulky and remain permanently installed in the patient’s mouth.
This is a small sampling of the many ways we can use dental implants to replace missing teeth. During your visit, we’ll discuss which options would work best for you based on your needs and desires.