Switching from Dentures to Dental Implants: What You Need to Know
Dentures are one of the most common and affordable solutions to replace missing teeth, but they do have their drawbacks as well. Dentures can become ill-fitting over time and begin to irritate the gums. And while they offer a somewhat natural look, they do not function as well as a natural teeth or other tooth replacement remedies. Dental implants are the best option to replace missing teeth, so if you’re thinking about transitioning from dentures to implants, here’s what you need to know:
Dental Implants 101
Dental implants involve a titanium anchor implanted in your jawbone and topped with a prosthetic tooth. Your jawbone will eventually fuse to the implant anchor, providing a strong alternative tooth root to maintain bone structure. Dental implants are the superior option for tooth replacement because they not only look identical to natural teeth, they function like natural teeth as well.
Switching to Dental Implants
Once your dental implants are in place and the area has healed, you’ll notice several advantages over dentures:
- No more ill-fitting dentures slipping around your mouth and clacking
- No more food trapped between your dentures and your gums
- Easy maintenance—Dental implants are brushed and flossed like regular teeth, requiring no specialized products or equipment
- You can eat anything you want
Dental Implant Preparation
Before your dental implant surgery, your dentist will assess the health and density of your jawbone. If you have experienced bone loss in your jaw while wearing dentures, you might need a bone graft to add bone mass, ensuring your jawbone fuses successfully with the implant. A bone graft procedure involves adding bone material to the future implant area. The “donor” material is typically taken from elsewhere in your mouth or from a tissue bank, which works similarly to a blood bank. It takes about four to six months to heal before the dental implant procedure can commence.
Dental Implant Surgery
Dental implant surgery involves several steps, and the first one—if bone graft surgery is not needed—is implanting the titanium anchor into the jawbone. Depending on the quality of your jawbone, the implant might be submerged under the gums to heal, or an abutment might be placed right away above the gumline. It takes about 4-6 months for the jawbone to fully fuse to the anchor. Your dentist will monitor the healing process during check-up appointments.
Once the fusion is complete, your dentist will attach the abutment to the implant (if it wasn’t previously attached) and take impressions of your upper and lower jaws to create a prosthetic tooth that fits perfectly with the rest of your teeth. After 10-14 days, a dental lab will complete the fabrication of the tooth and your dentist will cement it to the abutment.
Transitioning from dentures to implants
During the 4-6 month period your mouth is healing from implant surgery, you can still wear your dentures—although some modifications might be necessary. Dentures can be relined with a soft cushion material to make them more comfortable against your sensitive, healing gums. Another option is using a temporary “flipper,” which is similar to an orthodontic retainer, but with one or multiple teeth attached. However, flippers are not meant to be used as dentures, so you shouldn’t eat hard foods with it in place.
All on 4 Dental Implants: A hybrid solution
Dental implants and dentures don’t have to be an either/or option for teeth replacement. Dental implants can also be used to stabilize dentures, using a procedure called All on 4. Using only four implants per arch (instead of one for each missing tooth), your dentist will attach a set of permanent dentures that look and feel like real teeth, with many of the advantages of individual dental implants.
Get the strong, healthy smile you deserve with dental implants
If you currently wear dentures, you probably won’t need much convincing to choose a better, stronger, easier-to-maintain option for teeth replacement. If you have questions about the dental implant procedure, the dental specialists at San Diego Dental Specialty Center are here to help. We’ll talk you through the procedure and discuss your options and concerns. Give us a call today at (619) 272-6246 to schedule a free consultation.