Last updated on June 9th, 2018
Picture the scene: a family out to dinner with an elderly relative. Halfway through a conversation, the elderly relative’s teeth fall out and land in their food. It’s a sight well played-out in comedy, but for a long time it was a very real part of life for many people.
The unfortunate reality for many denture patients is that their dentures will become loose, and frequently. It makes being in public a source of anxiety and discomfort. Loose dentures affect their confidence, self-esteem, and even their mouth’s ability to function.
Luckily dental sciences and technologies are constantly developing. Today we have implant-supported fixed dentures, giving patients back their confidence and their ability to function properly.
Conventional vs Fixed Dentures
Conventional dentures are fixed in place using dental adhesive. It’s this adhesive that loses its effectiveness and causes loose dentures. More adhesive needs to be applied, over and over again.
Conventional lower jaw dentures are particularly susceptible to coming loose. Upper jaw dentures cover the whole roof of the mouth, More contact surface area gives greater stability.
Lower jaw dentures, however, can only cover the gum or else risk interfering with the tongue. With less contact area, there’s less support.
Fixed dentures, by contrast, are supported by four or more dental implants. These dentures either connect directly to the implants, or to a metal plate connected to the implants.
“All on four” is one such method of supporting an entire row of teeth on just four strategically placed implants.
Understanding Dental Implants and Fixed Dentures
Dental implants are titanium screws set into the jawbone that replace the root of a missing tooth. The bone grows around the screw and anchors it into place.
Once the bone and gum have healed, the gum is opened so a connector, or “abutment”, can be placed onto the implant. This allows prosthetics like crowns and dentures to be connected to the new artificial root.
Dental implants are most frequently used to replace a single missing tooth. Usually it’s just a single dental crown that gets connected to the implant, and this makes an artificial tooth.
When it comes to an entire arch of missing teeth, though, replacing each tooth with an implant would be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. Instead, bridges and dentures allow rows of teeth to be replaced using eight or less implants.
As a result, this significantly reduces the time and cost necessary for large-scale mouth rehabilitations.
5 Major Benefits of Fixed Dentures
Conventional dentures inevitably become loose in the mouth. This has many effects, both physical and psychological.
It impairs the ability to eat and speak properly. Gums can become damaged when loose dentures rub and grind against them. Wearers feel less than confident in social situations knowing that their teeth might come loose and cause a scene.
Fixed dentures solve all of these problems.
Let’s take a look on benefits:
- The biggest benefit is the increased stability, which translates to increased performance and confidence.
- Wearers of fixed dentures feel much more confident with their dentures knowing they can rely on them.
- Eating and speaking are unimpeded.
- Gums remain healthier because they aren’t under inconsistent stress and pressure while chewing.
- There’s no rubbing, grinding, or bruising against the tissues of your mouth.
How Much Do Fixed Dentures Cost
For all the benefits of fixed dentures, there is one big drawback: the cost.
Dental implants aren’t cheap to begin with. They’re highly technical surgical procedures. Four or more at the same time can be very expensive.
Fixed dentures provide much better results for patients, but at a proportionally higher cost.
Full mouth (upper and lower dentures) of fixed dentures will cost from $20,000 to $50,000.
Fixed Denture Procedure
After your consultation with the dentist, work will begin planning the placement of your dental implants. 3D mapping technologies are used to work out exactly where the implants will go in the jaw.
The number of implants needed will depend on a few factors. These include
- The health of your mouth
- The volume of available bone to place the implants
- The size and shape of the denture
Check this INFOGRAPHIC about fixed dentures procdeure (Click to Zoom):
Once the placement of the implants has been determined, it will be time for surgery. The implants will be inserted into the jaw, and the gum sewn shut over the top.
A temporary denture will be used while the implants fuse to the bone in the jaw. This can take several months, to ensure the implants are as secure as possible before placing anything on top of them.
After the implants have set properly it will be time to attach the denture. A preliminary fitting will take place, where the dentist will assess how well the denture is sitting.
Often some slight adjustments will need to be made. This fitting and modifying process can repeat several times before the final denture is approved.
The final step is to attach the denture to the abutments on the implants. This typically involves using small screws to go through the tops of the artificial teeth to connect to the implants below. The tops of these teeth are then capped with crowns so the screws aren’t exposed.
Can You Ever Remove Fixed Dentures?
Technically, even fixed dentures are removable. The difference between fixed and removable implant-supported dentures is whether the wearer can remove them on their own.
With fixed dentures, the screws that keep the denture in place can only be accessed by the dentist. You won’t be able to take them off yourself.
Who Can Get Fixed Dentures?
There is no age limit for fixed dentures. Patients even into their 90s can be suitable candidates. However, there are several contra-indicators for dental implants:
- Patients who smoke are ineligible for dental implant surgery.
- Patients with existing chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease may not be suitable for surgery.
- Patients with insufficient bone density can’t get implants.
Beyond that, for the most part anyone with a healthy mouth and good oral hygiene is a good candidate for dental implant surgery, and therefor fixed dentures.
If you’ve struggled with conventional dentures in the past and would like a change to something more reliable, contact us today about the possibility of getting fixed dentures.