Although dentures are a well-known tooth replacement option, one of the biggest problems faced by wearers has traditionally been slippage.
Fortunately, advancements in dental technology have brought us solutions that address such concerns, with the two most popular options being snap-in overdentures and permanent, implant-supported dentures, which are more secure and comfortable, giving you a lot more confidence in your smile.
Both are designed to replace a full arch of teeth in either the upper or lower jaw, though they can also be used in large spaced with multiple missing teeth.
However, permanent dentures tend to be more stable, durable, and cost-effective in the long-term. This is because snap-in denture wearers may have to deal with damage to the attachments due to constantly removing and re-inserting their appliances, resulting in reduced retention, looseness, need for a reline, and ultimately higher long-term costs.
More about snap on dentures
Snap-in dentures, also known as implant-supported dentures or overdentures, have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional dentures. These dentures are designed to snap onto dental implants that have been surgically placed into the jawbone.
The use of dental implants to support dentures has been around for many years, but the concept behind snap-in dentures has evolved to improve their fit, comfort, and overall success.
The history of snap-in dentures can be traced back to the 1970s when dental implants were first introduced as a way to anchor dentures in place.
In pioneer treatments, dental implants were typically placed into the jawbone and then connected to the denture via a bar that spanned the implants. This bar served as a stable foundation for the denture to rest on, but it could also cause discomfort and irritation to the gums and other soft tissues.
Over time, the technology behind implant-supported dentures improved, leading to the development of snap-in dentures. Instead of a single bar, these dentures are connected to the implants via a series of snaps or attachments.
This design allows for a more secure fit, better distribution of pressure, and greater comfort for the patient.
Problems with snap-in dentures
Despite these improvements, there are still some problems associated with snap-in dentures:
1. Less durable than permanent, all-on-4 implants
One of the main issues is that the fit of the denture can be affected by changes in the jawbone over time. When teeth are missing, the jawbone will begin to deteriorate, which can cause the denture to become loose and uncomfortable. This problem can be addressed through regular maintenance and adjustments to the denture, but it can still be a source of frustration for some patients.
2. More expensive than conventional dentures
Another potential problem with snap-in dentures is that they can be more expensive than traditional dentures. The cost of dental implants and the surgical procedure required to place them can add significantly to the overall cost of treatment. However, many patients find that the added comfort and stability of snap-in dentures are worth the investment.
3. Require special cleaning process
All dentures require regular cleaning to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent the accumulation of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
For snap-in dentures, they should be removed from the mouth and cleaned thoroughly with a soft-bristled brush and denture cleaning solution or mild soap and water. It is important to avoid using harsh abrasives or stiff brushes, as these can damage the dentures.
In addition to regular maintenance at home, it is also important to have snap-in dentures professionally cleaned and checked by a dentist at least once a year to ensure that they are in good condition and fitting properly.
4. Must be removed when going to bed
Although overdentures feel more stable in the mouth, it is generally recommended that you remove them before going to bed. This is because wearing dentures for extended periods without a break can cause discomfort, irritation, and even inflammation of the gums.
Removing dentures at night also allows the gums to rest and recover from the pressure of wearing them during the day.
Additionally, removing dentures at night can help prevent the buildup of bacteria and plaque, which can cause bad breath and other oral health problems. Therefore, it is best to follow the advice of your dentist and remove your snap-in dentures before going to bed.
5. Long recovery time
With snap-on dentures, you typically need a minimum of two implants to support the denture, but some patients may require more depending on the amount of support needed.
Following implant placement, you will have to wear a temporary denture and maintain a soft diet for the next 3 to 6 months as you wait for the implants to fuse with the bone. Then abutment will be placed to support your overdenture.
It’s important to note that the process of fitting and attaching snap-on dentures may also involve some adjustments and follow-up appointments with the dentist, which can also impact recovery time.
Permanent, all-on-4 dentures
If you’re not satisfied with the stability offered by snap-in dentures, you can opt for all-on-4 treatment, also known as “Teeth in a Day, whereby the dentures are permanently attached to four implants (instead of 2 as is typical with overdentures).
Unlike the former, which use a specialized attachment system that makes it possible to remove them for cleaning, all-on-4 dentures can never be removed, except in the dentist’s office if absolutely necessary.
This treatment involves the placement of four dental implants strategically in the jawbone, which serve as anchors for the prosthesis. The denture is then fixed to the implants and is not removable by the patient. All-on-4 permanent dentures are designed to look and function like natural teeth, and they provide a long-term solution for tooth loss.
Snap in dentures vs. permanent dentures
Support bone health
Prevents bone loss
Prevents bone loss
Removable or permanent?
Removable overdentures snap onto the dental implants using attachments.
Fixed in place and cannot be removed by the patient
Taken out for cleaning and maintenance, and when sleeping.
Patients brush and floss normally as with natural teeth
Has more material and acrylic on plate that needs relining and adjustment
Does not require relining
Removable overdentures are a less invasive option (have 2 implants) that requires a shorter recovery time
Require a more invasive surgical procedure and a longer recovery time due to placement of 4 implants
Stability and comfort when eating, drinking, and speaking
More stable and comfortable than traditional removable dentures
More stable and provide better function and aesthetics than removable overdentures
Maintain soft diet during implant recovery; none after healing
Maintain soft diet during implant recovery; none after healing
Least expensive full-arch teeth replacement
Regular checkups with a dental professional
Should be professionally cleaned and checked by a dentist at least once a year to ensure that they are in good condition and fitting properly.
Recommended to monitor the health and stability of the implants and denture, and for professional cleaning annually.
Summary of the potential problems with snap-in dentures compared to permanent dentures
Movement and Looseness
Snap-in dentures rely on attachments like clips or studs to hold the removable partial in place. These can wear down and loosen over time, allowing the denture to move around in the mouth while eating and speaking. This can be uncomfortable and make the denture less functional. Permanent dentures fused to implants do not have this issue.
Damage to Attachments
The snap attachments which hold snap-in dentures can fracture or break under pressure, especially if the fit is not ideal. They may need frequent replacing or repair which increases costs. The direct integration of permanent implant dentures avoids attachment damage.
As snap-in attachments loosen and wear out over the years, retention is reduced. Chewing force can cause the denture to dislodge. Initially snap-ins have good retention but this declines. Whereas permanent implant fusion provides lifelong stability.
Need for Reline
Declining retention coupled with gum recession means snap-ins often require relining every 3-5 years to refresh the fit. This adds time and costs. Implant retained dentures maintain their fit long-term without reline.
Higher Long-Term Costs
While initially cheaper, snap-ins have higher long-term costs due to more frequent repairs, replacement of damaged attachments, remakes, relines. Permanent implant dentures are more expensive at first but longer lasting.
The main difference between the two types of dentures is their permanence. All-on-4 permanent dentures are removable, whereas removable overdentures can be taken out for cleaning and maintenance.
As such, snap-in dentures often become loose and problematic over time. In contrast, permanent implant fusion means better fit, chewing ability, comfort and reduced costs long-term for many patients.
The choice between All-on-4 permanent dentures and removable overdentures depends on the individual’s needs, preferences, and overall oral health. A consultation with a dental professional can help determine which option is best for each individual case.