An implant anchored denture is a type of overdenture that is supported by and attached to implants. A regular denture rests on the gums, is not supported by implants, and tends to fit less firmly in the mouth.
An implant-anchored denture is used when a person doesn't have any teeth in the jaw, but has enough bone in the jaw to support implants. An implant-supported denture has special attachments that snap onto the implants.
There are two types of implant-anchored dentures: bar-retained and ball-retained.
The denture will often be made of an acrylic base that will look like gums, with porcelain or acrylic teeth that look like natural teeth. Bar-retained dentures require at least three implants. Ball-retained dentures need at least two.
A thin metal bar that follows the curve of your jaw is attached to between two & five implants that have been placed in your jawbone. Clips or other types of attachments are fitted to the bar the denture, or to both. The denture fits over the bar and is securely clipped into place by the attachments.
Each implant that has been placed in the jawbone holds a metal attachment that fits into another attachment on the denture. In most cases, the attachments on the implants are ball-shaped ("male" attachments), and they fit into sockets ("female" attachments) on the denture. In some cases, these attachments are reversed, with the denture holding the male attachments and the implants holding the female ones.
Because this approach requires fewer implants than the alternative of fixed permanent bridgework, it offers a lower cost option.
You will need to remove the denture at least twice a day for cleaning. You also should carefully clean around the implants and attachments.
The clip or other attachments on the bar-retained denture usually will need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months. They are made of a plastic material (nylon) and will wear after continued use.
A bar-retained denture carries certain risks. A bar-retained denture needs space on the denture framework for the special attachments that are fitted to the bar. This means that there is less space available on the denture framework for the teeth to be fitted. Because of this the teeth sometimes can come loose from the base. This problem is easily fixed.
Also, when attaching the bar to the implants it is important that the bar is evenly balanced on each implant. Dentists call this a "passive fit." If the fit is not passive, the extra strain on the bar can cause the screws to loosen. If you grind or clench your teeth, it's more likely that parts of the denture will break or that your implants will come loose.
Your implant-supported denture will be more stable than a regular denture. You will find it easier to speak and you won't have to worry about the denture becoming loose or falling out of your mouth. You generally will be able to eat foods you could not eat before. However, you will not be able to chew hard or sticky foods because they can damage the denture.
If you have an implant-supported denture in your upper jaw, it will feel more natural than a regular denture because the denture will no longer cover the roof of your mouth.