What are Denture Implants - Types & Cost
What are Denture Implants?
Denture implants are dental implants that are placed in the jaw in order to support or retain a full or partial denture. Denture implants can provide a stable denture foundation for patients who have lost all of their natural teeth but have maintained adequate jaw bone mass to support implants. The use of denture implants can improve significantly the quality of life for patients wearing removable dentures.
How Implant Supported Dentures work
Special attachments fitted on the denture are used to attach it on top of the denture implants that are securely placed in the jawbone.
Denture implants provide a level of stability and comfort that common dentures can never offer.
To place the implant supported denture the patient has to place it in the proper position with the top of the implant and the denture socket facing each other and apply a light pressure. The denture snaps securely onto the heads of the implants.
Implant supported dentures will not move or pop off from the dental implants with regular movements such as eating or speaking.
To remove an implant supported denture, the patient has to apply pressure in a lifting motion with the thumbs, and the denture disengages from the dental implants easily.
Types of Implant Dentures
There are two types of implant dentures based on the type of the attachment used on the denture implants to provide support:
- Bar-retained : A thin metal bar that follows the curve of the jaw is attached to two to five denture implants that have been placed in the jawbone. Clips or other types of attachments are fitted to the denture, so that it can be securely clipped over the bar.
- Ball-retained : A ball-shaped attachment is placed on top of each of the denture implants instead of the classic abutments, which fits into socket like connectors fitted at the base of the denture.
The "ball and socket" type is the most popular type of implant supported dentures.
How Much Do Denture Implants Cost?
The cost of implant dentures is actually a combination of the cost of the dental implants and the cost of the removable full dentures.
The cost of denture implants depends on the number and type of implants to be used. At least two implants are required for providing a basic stability to the denture. In this case we are not actually talking about an implant supported denture but for an implant retained denture. An implant retained denture is the most affordable entry-level solution but does not offer the full benefits of an implant supported denture (comfort, bone loss prevention etc).
For an implant supported denture the patient should expect the cost of 5 denture implants in the lower jaw and at least 6 denture implants for the upper jaw.
The cost of denture implants can be reduced if mini dental implants are used. In this case the number of denture implants needed will increase but the overall cost can be lower.
In many cases, patients with existing conventional dentures may avoid the cost of new dentures if the old dentures can fulfill some functional and aesthetic requirements. If the denture implants use the "ball and socket" system, the old dentures may be adjusted and modified by adding the sockets needed for the attachment to the denture implants. If modification is not possible new implant supported dentures will cost a little more than conventional ones.
When evaluating the cost of implant dentures, the patient should also consider the long terms savings of using implant supported instead of conventional dentures. Traditional dentures have to be relined from time to time and replaced every few years. The savings from the cost of adhesives may also be significant in the long term.
How many Denture Implants are needed?
Two implants are the minimum required for an implant ball-retained denture for the lower jaw. Bar-retained dentures require at least three implants.
Even though with as few as two dental implants, the retention and stability of a lower denture can be greatly increased, the patient will not get most of the other benefits of implant dentures. The denture will still have to rest on the gum tissue causing irritations but the most important is that jaw bone loss can not be reverted significantly if only a few implants are used.
For a standard implant supported denture, five denture implants are needed for the lower jaw and at least six implants for the upper jaw. Due to the effect of gravity and the lower bone density of the upper jaw, upper dentures require a larger number of implants.
More implants will be needed if the dentist uses mini dental implants instead of standard diameter implants (a minimum of 4 for the lower jaw and 6 for the upper jaw for basic denture retention).
Several techniques have been developed lately to provide a solution for patients with severe bone loss at the back of the jaws. These techniques known as All-on-4 and All-on-6 are based on the placement of 4 or 6 denture implants with very specific orientation only in the front part of the jaw.