Snap on dentures pros and cons (overdenture on natural teeth vs. implants)

Overdentures are removable tooth replacement appliances that are inserted over existing natural teeth or connected to dental implants as snap-on dentures, to fill in gaps in your mouth.

Before modern implant dentistry, dentures were designed to fit over damaged natural teeth (the remnants of broken or decayed teeth) without extracting them. As a result, snap on overdentures were born.

This tooth replacement technique was necessary because, back in the day, surgical tooth extraction was dangerous and painful due to lack of modern anesthetics.

Today, snap-on dentures or overdentures can be attached to either healthy natural teeth or tooth implants. They continue to be a popular treatment option for individuals who have lost most or all of their teeth. These dentures provide a more secure and functional alternative to conventional removable dentures, offering improved chewing efficiency, speech clarity, and overall oral health.

snap on overdentures

Snap on overdenture on natural teeth (source: InnovaDental)

What is an overdenture?

Overdentures are more common in the lower jaw because lower removable dentures have poor grip and keep slipping out.

When fitting regular dentures, dentists usually need to remove any excessively damaged teeth so the false teeth can rest directly on the gums. However, they dentures tend to fit less firmly as they rely on suction alone to keep them in place. With time, their retention worsens because of continual bone loss of the dental arches due to the lack of teeth.

Overdentures, on the other hand, are supported by the root of the original tooth or implants, providing you with maximum retention, better dental function, and health benefits.

Overdentures on Natural Teeth – History

Snap-on dentures have a history that dates back several decades. The concept of fitting a denture over existing teeth or dental implants to enhance stability and retention has evolved over time.

Mid-20th century Search for attachments to stabilize denturesEarly Developments

Dental professionals began exploring ways to improve the stability of dentures. One of the early developments was the use of precision attachments, which allowed dentures to be securely connected to remaining natural teeth. These attachments provided better retention and minimized denture movement during speech and chewing.

In the 1960s and 1970sBar attachment systems gained popularity.Emergence of Bar Attachment Systems

These systems involved placing a metal bar on existing natural teeth, which would then be used as a foundation for attaching the denture. The bar acted as a support, improving the stability and function of the denture.

Next CameBall-and-socket technologyAdvancements in Dental Implants

With advancements in dental implant technology, the use of implants as anchors for overdentures became more widespread. Implants are surgically placed in the jawbone, and the denture is attached to these implants using special attachments or ball-and-socket mechanisms. Dental implants provide superior stability and retention, offering a more natural and secure fit for the overdenture.

Modern dayOverdentures with attachmentsSnap-On Dentures

Over time, the term “snap-on dentures” emerged as a popular way to describe overdentures that utilize attachments or mechanisms to snap or clip onto natural teeth or dental implants. This term highlights the ease of placement and removal of the denture, while providing enhanced stability and support.

TodayImproved Materials and Techniques

The materials and techniques used for snap-on dentures have significantly improved over the years. Modern denture materials, such as acrylic resins and flexible denture bases, offer better aesthetics, durability, and comfort. Advanced CAD/CAM technology and digital dentistry have also revolutionized the design and fabrication process of snap-on dentures, allowing for precise and customized fit.

Types of overdentures

The most widely used overdenture involves teeth that have been previously repaired using root canal therapy. If the roots of damaged teeth are serviceable, the crown is cut off at the gum line and removable appliances fitted over the stumps.

In some instances, the stumps can be covered with filling material to protect them from decay. Alternatively, if the root of the existing tooth is not stable enough to support a replacement tooth, the entire tooth may be extracted and a dental implant placed to serve as the foundation of your overdenture.

Let’s look at these types of overdentures:

1. Dentures that fit over existing teeth

Dentures can be designed to fit over existing teeth. By fitting over existing teeth, the overdenture gains additional support and stability, reducing the risk of slippage or movement during speaking or eating, as well as enhancing aesthetics.

The process of fitting overdentures on natural teeth involves the following steps:

Step 1: Evaluation of existing natural teeth

Your dentist will thoroughly examine your existing teeth to determine their condition and suitability for supporting the overdenture. Factors such as tooth stability, gum health, and the presence of any decay or infection will be assessed.

Step 2: Tooth Preparation

In some cases, the teeth may require some preparation before the overdenture can be placed. This may involve removing decay, addressing any gum disease, or adjusting the shape of the teeth to accommodate the denture.

Step 3: Attachment Selection

Your dentist will select the appropriate attachments or connectors to secure the overdenture to the existing teeth. These attachments can vary depending on the specific case and can include precision attachments, clasps, or other types of connectors.

Step 4: Impression Taking

An impression of your mouth will be taken to create an accurate model of your teeth and gums. This model will serve as a guide for the fabrication of the overdenture, ensuring a precise fit.

Step 5: Denture Fabrication

Using the impression and the selected attachments, a dental laboratory will fabricate the overdenture. The denture will be custom-made to fit over the existing teeth and provide optimal stability and comfort.

Step 6: Try-In and Adjustment

Once the overdenture is ready, you will have a try-in appointment. During this visit, your dentist will ensure that the denture fits properly and makes any necessary adjustments to ensure a comfortable and secure fit.

Step 7: Final Placement

After the adjustments, the overdenture will be permanently placed over the existing teeth. Your dentist will ensure that the denture is securely attached to the teeth using the chosen connectors or attachments.

2. Snap-on Overdentures on Implants

Teeth that cannot be restored or used to support the overdenture must be extracted. But for a more stable restoration, the denture can be attached to an artificial tooth root known as an implant.

The implant is surgically placed in the jaw, so that it forms an artificial tooth root.

The snap-on overdentures use direct connections to abutments that are attached to the implant, helping them to overcome the instability and lack of retention that is common with traditional dentures, especially in the lower jaw.

They are used for patients without any teeth, but have sufficient jaw bone to support the implants.

Bar attachments for snap-on overdentures

There are a number of ways to install snap-on overdentures, but the clip bar and direct attachment options are the most common. The appeal of the former is that a bar equally distributes force between dental implants, but direct attachment are less expensive and take less vertical space.

The best type of overdenture for you depends on your mouth, which is the case with getting any other dental prosthetic. Keep in mind that even with bar attachments, they won’t be the only thing that keeps the denture in place.

Tissue and attachments must both sustain all overdentures. The soft tissue supports the denture, with the attachments serving as a lock to keep the denture in place. The denture will not stay in place if there is no tissue support.

Tooth supported overdenture: Is it right for me?

Not all cases of missing teeth are suitable for overdentures on existing teeth or dental implants.

To determine whether snap-on overdentures are right for you, it’s important that you discuss your case with your dentist. They will assess your oral health and ridge form to make an informed decision.

  • Ridge form and tissue support: If you have a flat ridge, there may be limited tissue support for the overdenture attachments. In such cases, the attachments will experience complete pressure without the support of surrounding tissues.
  • Fixed vs. removable prosthesis: If possible, a fixed patient-removable prosthesis is preferred. This can be achieved using a bar with horizontal lock attachments, providing stability and ease of use for the patient.
  • The  occlusion class and bite alignment also play a role in determining the number and type of attachments required for your overdenture. For example, an upper denture with two attachments may be suitable for an ideal Class I occlusion, while a severe overjet may require a bar for additional support.
  • Stability and prevention of movement: If the denture is supported only by overdenture attachments, there is a risk of anterior flange sliding during biting. This can be addressed by using a bar that extends past the ridge, preventing movement and providing stability during functional activities like biting into an apple.
  • Clip bar vs direct attachment approach for overdentures depends on situational circumstances and the clinician’s preferences. Neither strategy is inherently superior, and both can be useful in the appropriate situations.

In summary, the approach for overdentures is tailored to each patient’s unique oral condition and needs. Your dentist will consider factors such as ridge form, occlusion, and stability to determine the most suitable option for you.

Snap on dentures pros and cons

With modern dentistry, any teeth that are not severely damaged can be restored and maintained. And if you have gaps between these teeth, dentures can be fitted and attached to them for stability.

It is usually better to retain the original tooth so the roots can maintain the connection with the underlying bone that supports them. Otherwise, the bone would resorb away, reducing the tissue available for denture support.

Additionally, the root of an original tooth (after the damaged crown – section above the gums – has been cut off) can be used as a vertical support for the snap-on overdenture, allowing for more retention and stability.

Here are the pros and cons:


  • Enhanced stability: Snap-on dentures are anchored to dental implants, providing superior stability compared to traditional removable dentures. This stability allows for improved biting and chewing functionality.
  • Improved confidence: With snap-on dentures, individuals can have more confidence in their dentures staying in place. The fear of dentures slipping or falling out during speaking or eating is significantly reduced.
  • Preserves jawbone health: The dental implants used to support snap-on dentures stimulate the jawbone, helping to prevent bone loss and maintain the natural shape of the jaw.
  • Enhanced comfort: The stability and secure fit of snap-on dentures minimize discomfort and irritation often associated with traditional dentures, such as sore spots or rubbing.


  • Cost: Snap-on dentures are typically more expensive than traditional removable dentures due to the need for dental implants and the surgical procedure involved. The cost may be a limiting factor for some individuals.
  • Surgical procedure: Placing dental implants requires a surgical procedure, which involves a healing period before the dentures can be attached. This adds complexity and time to the overall treatment process.
  • Maintenance and cleaning: While snap-on dentures offer improved stability, they still require proper maintenance and cleaning. Good oral hygiene practices and periodic professional cleanings are necessary to ensure the longevity and hygiene of the dentures.
  • Potential complications: As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved, such as infection, implant failure, or complications during the healing process. It’s essential to discuss these potential risks with your dentist before undergoing the treatment.

How much do overdentures cost?

Snap-on overdenture cost can vary based on different factors including:

  • The type of dental specialist performing the procedure (cosmetic dentist versus prosthodontist)
  • Location of the dentist
  • How many tooth replacements you need
  • The materials of the overdenture
  • Type of overdenture

A straight removable denture generally costs about $2,500. Overdentures, on the other hand, may cost between $1,000 and $3,000 per tooth with implants. If you plan on getting implant overdentures, you should consider that dental implants costs range from $2,000-$6,000. This means that to replace a full upper or lower set of teeth, you may spend anything from $28,000 and above.

Snap on Overdentures near me

Within the first year after a denture is implanted, tissue recession, shrinking, and resorption are common. When this happens, more force is applied to the attachment, resulting in a rock that finally wears out the inserts.

As such, denture wearers should continue to see their dentists for checkups on their new teeth on a regular basis. Dentures are subjected to wear and tear over time, as well as changes in the structure of the jawbone and mouth. Because of these reasons, the dentures may become loose and ill-fitting over time.

Each time this occurs, the patient will be required to return to the clinic in search of fresh male dentures. A simple reline, rather than multiple office visits, provides a permanent answer to this problem.

Dentures typically survive five to ten years, with 95 percent of implants lasting five years or longer.


Naorem Jenny, “Beneath the Complete Denture Prosthesis: A Review.” International
Journal of Dental Sciences and Research, vol. 6, no. 4 (2018): 87-89. doi: 10.12691/ijdsr-6-4-2

Snap On Overdentures


  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

  • Lilly

    Lilly, aka, Liza Lee, is a passionate community oral health officer and our lead writer. She's not only well-versed in performing a multitude of dental procedures, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic, but also an avid writer. Driven by the significant oral health burden all around her, Lilly strives to build capacity and promote oral health. She envisions making a lasting impact by advancing research, prevention, and promotion efforts to alleviate oral health disparities. Please share your views and opinions on my posts.

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