Many patients with dentures are uncomfortable with their dentures and only use them in social situations. There are many reasons why a denture may be uncomfortable: poor fabrication, poor fit or lack of jaw bone for a proper base for seating and stability of the denture. This is a common problem in the lower jaw where the bone shrinkage (resorption) after extraction seems to be quicker than in the upper jaw.
An overdenture is a denture that fits over residual tooth roots or dental implants. An implant overdenture is one that a dentist fits over two or more dental implants for stability. The denture still rests on the gum, however the implants insures that it is stable and does not move around during normal functions. An implant overdenture can have many different designs depending on the number of implants used and the amount of bone loss due to resorption that has occurred.
An implant overdenture fabrication usually is a two step process. In the first step, an dental implant dentist trained with dental implants performs a surgery to place the implants, which will support the denture, in the patient jaw bone. The second step starts about 2 to 4 months after the surgery. The implants are uncovered and a precision superstructure is fabricated and screwed into the implants. This structure may have various design configurations ranging from a metal bar to specially designed abutment.
Then the dental implant dentist can fabricate a new denture with special provisions on the inside surface to receive various types of attachments, or an existing denture can be retrofitted to correspond with the design. Depending on the attachment, they interact in various ways with the design configuration. The attachment will help to securely maintain a denture while eating and speaking, and still allows a patient to easily remove the denture for cleaning purposes.
Talk to your dental implant dentist to determine if you are a good candidate for implant overdenture.