Compared to regular dentures that rely on tissues and suction to keep them in place, implant retained dentures are attached to implants in the jaw bone to make them more retentive. Traditional dentures are only connected to the gums, which means that wearers can easily move them out of position using their tongue or lips. This can be very uncomfortable and embarrassing, but implant retained dentures are firmly secured in place.
4-tooth implant bridge (Source: ElectricTeeth)
Implant retained dentures (Snap-On dentures or overdentures) use direct connections to abutments that are integrated into the bony tissue, helping them to overcome the instability and lack of retention that is common with other types of dentures, especially in the lower jaw.
They are used for patients without any teeth, but have sufficient jaw bone to support the implants. The removable dentures are supported with clips or snaps, while the fixed ones use a screw to attach them to the dental implants, offering more stability and comfort than the regular ones.
There are two types of regular dentures: partial and complete dentures. The former are typically tooth supported, though some are retained by both the tooth and gums. With newer materials, designs, and techniques, partials are now more comfortable than ever. They do not harm the remaining natural teeth, and even help to maintain the remaining teeth in their appropriate position, preventing them from shifting into any gaps left by missing teeth.
Complete dentures, also known as full dentures, are worn by patients with missing teeth in their entire upper or lower arch. It is here where patients can opt for an implant retained denture for more stability.
Partial dentures: before and after (source: https://www.lakes-dental.com/dental-services/denturespartials/)
Dental implant bridge photos
A bridge supported by implants is similar to a normal dental bridge, except that it is supported by implants instead of natural teeth. Typically, when an implant-supported bridge is used, the dentist places one implant in the jawbone for each missing tooth, and then the crowns are connected to each other to create one uniform piece.
Compared to traditional dentures that are held in place by the natural suction of the gums, implant dentures are supported by the permanent fixture of dental implants.
This gives them specific properties, including:
- A bite that is comparable to natural teeth because they hold your dentures firmly in place.
- Suitable for use in patients who have no teeth in the jaw, but have sufficient bone tissue to provide implant support.
- Ideal for placement in the lower jaw because normal dentures are less stable there. In most cases, a traditional denture designed to fit the upper jaw is quite stable on its own without requiring the extra support provided by implants.
That said, you can still opt for implant-supported dentures for either the upper or lower jaw.
Who needs 4-tooth Implant bridge?
This solution is usually preferred when the individual has more than two missing teeth, or when your dentist is concerned that you might exert too much force on individual implants that are not linked to each other. The excess pressure may make them more likely to loosen from the bone and fail. So, a 4-tooth implant bridge will help to distribute the chewing pressure across the entire arch.
Benefits of 4-tooth Implant bridge
A 4-tooth implant bridge may be used to replace all the missing teeth in your upper and/or lower jaw. Restoring the teeth in an entire arch offers several benefits:
- To restore the natural size, shape, color, and function of teeth: Bridges help you chew and speak properly, build back your smile, and help maintain your bite and jaw alignment by preventing the remaining teeth from shifting out of position.
- Less invasive: There is no need to drill down existing teeth to replace the missing ones, as is the case with traditional tooth supported bridges.
- Long gaps with multiple missing teeth can be treated effectively with implant-supported bridges
- They’re fixed in place, which means that you don’t need to remove them for cleaning
- They should last a lifetime with good oral hygiene and professional maintenance
Types of implant supported dentures
There are two types of dentures, though they are both made of an acrylic base that resembles your gums, and acrylic or porcelain teeth that resemble your natural teeth. The false teeth are attached to the acrylic base. Both also require a minimum of two implants for support.
- Bar retained dentures – a thin metal bar is attached to 2-5 implants placed in the jaw bone. It follows the curve of your jaw, and is fitted with clips or other attachments to securely clip the denture.
- Ball-retained dentures – each implant holds a metal attachment (ball shaped) that fits into another attachment (socket) on the denture.
The installation for ball-retained dentures starts with fitting a titanium or titanium alloy implant. Each implant holds a metal attachment that fits into a second attachment on the denture. The attachments on the implants are usually ball-shaped, and fit into sockets on the denture.
Patients can also opt for bar-retained dentures, where a thin metal bar is attached to 2-5 implants placed along the curve of your jaw, in the jaw bone. Attachments, such as clips, are fitted to the bar or denture (or both), and then the denture fits over the bar where the attachments clip it securely into place.
Ball denture (source: ETGAR)
Bar denture (source: ETGAR)
Implant-Supported Denture Placement Procedure
If your dentist does not want to insert an implant in a certain area in your mouth because there is insufficient jawbone to support the implant, or perhaps the area is very close to a sinus cavity or nerve, they may choose to avoid that area by putting implants on either sides of the gap.
The implant-supported bridge comprises:
- The implant – made of titanium and surgically put in the jawbone
- The abutment – cylinder made of porcelain, gold, or titanium that is screwed onto the implant. Abutment may also refer to the adjacent teeth supporting the bridgework via a crown.
- Restoration – series of crowns (look like natural teeth) connected to form a bridge. The false tooth is referred to as the pontic. It may be attached to crowns on one or both sides that are attached to the abutment teeth (supporting teeth).
In the procedure, titanium implants or posts – with integrated ball-tops – are inserted into the jaw, where the bone heals around them. If you already have a denture, it will be modified so it sits comfortably over the implants during the healing phase.
The procedure typically takes one hour, and can be performed under local anesthesia.
An implant-supported denture snaps onto the attachments on the implants. So, it is secure, but is still removable for cleaning through a simple “snap”. The dentures should be cleaned daily, just like with regular dentures, plus you should not sleep with them at night.
However, some people tend to get a permanent crown and bridgework that cannot be removed. So, your dentist will consider your specific needs when suggesting fixed or removable options.
Benefits of denture stabilization through implants
- Restoration of proper chewing, allowing a better diet and better health
- Improved speech and confidence
- Increased comfort with less irritation of gum tissue
- Eliminates the cost and inconvenience of denture adhesives
- Minimally invasive procedure
- Can utilize your current denture
What is implant bridge code?
The pontic will be reported based on the conventional pontic code that indicates the fabrication material used in the procedure. For instance, a porcelain or ceramic pontic uses the implant bridge code D6245. That said, the code also takes into consideration whether or not your oral surgeon used an abutment to connect the pontic to the implant.
So, if your implant-supported bridge uses an abutment, then an abutment supported retainer code will be billed (i.e., D6068-D6074, D6194). This implies that D6068 is billed if you’re using a porcelain or ceramic pontic that is connected to an abutment in addition to the abutment device — D6056, if the abutment is prefabricated or D6057, if the abutment is custom (icast or milled).
If the connection between the pontic and the implant is direct, without an abutment, then an implant-supported retainer code will be reported (D6075-D6077). For instance, if a ceramic bridge retainer is screwed or cemented directly onto the implant body, D6075 would need to be billed.
Learn more about ADA Dental Implant Codes here:
Dental implant supported bridges near me
When your bridges supported by implants have been placed, you will have access to the full range and strength of your bite and smile, plus your confidence will be restored. Every patient is different, and the results for the procedure may vary. Your oral surgeon will help you determine whether denture stabilization with implants is right for you.