Implant Dentures

What Are Implant Supported Dentures And Why Are They Used?

Implant dentures are a very significant improvement over wearing a regular denture.  Implants are like anchors in the jaw bone, somewhat like the roots of natural teeth that can be used to stabilize a denture or a set of teeth.  Sometimes as few as two implants result in a significantly improved denture that will stay in place, won’t tip near as much and will allow much harder biting and chewing.  Alternatively four to six implants can allow a set of teeth to be very solid without any tipping, sometimes the upper denture no longer has to cover the roof of the mouth or the lower teeth can be attached only to the implants and become non-removable. Regardless, implant dentures result in a great increase in comfort, function and self-confidence.

Dental implants can reduce or eliminate denture pinching of the gums and denture sores.  Dental implants will also slow down the rate at which the bone normally resorbs (shrinks) under dentures.  Dental implants allow you to bite harder and chew more normally for more enjoyment of eating. There is no sensation associated with the implants themselves.  Dental implants will also give you greater confidence in preventing unexpected denture dislodgement or movement during eating, talking or laughing that can otherwise be embarrassing.

  • …After consultation with Dr. Neale, I decided to proceed with the extensive dental work in my mouth. It was a challenging experience… The end result was worth the effort. Not only is the cosmetic effect great, more than that, the comfort in my mouth is such that I forget I have crowns, bridges and veneers. Thanks Dr. Neale.
    A satisfied customer,Mrs. S.B. Slave Lake
  • I have been a patient of Dr. David Neale over a period of 6 years. Recently he carried out extensive, delicate and complicated restoration work on my teeth, to my complete satisfaction. I shall always be thankful to Dr. Neale and I would certainly recommend him with absolute confidence to anyone.
    Mrs. B.L. Edmonton
  • I am impressed with the professional dental care I received from Dr. Neale and his staff. They were most accommodating and informative. Dr. Neale made me feel very comfortable, and he is someone I trust. His expertise and good judgment gave me a new confident smile.
    Mr. P. G. NWT
  • You have given my girl the joy of smiling. You and your team are the Greatest!
    Sincerely grateful, Mrs. K.C. NWT

Implant Denture Options

  1. Implant Overdenture:  Two implants are placed in the front of the lower jaw and a snap attached to the top of each implant. The denture will be modified so that the other ½ of the snap is under the denture and then the denture will snap onto the implants.  The denture is removed with a ‘snap’ whenever desired by you. The implant overdenture is partly supported by the implants and partly supported by the gums so that it functions similarly to a regular denture but has much greater stability and comfort especially when chewing.  An implant overdenture will need simple maintenance including replacement of the part of the snap designed to wear, usually every year or two and likely a reline after some years. Eventually replacement of the overdenture is needed when the teeth wear down although the implants should continue to function without change.
  2. Fixed (non-removable) Implant Hybrid Restoration:  This restoration is best suited for the lower jaw.  Normally 5 implants are placed in the front area of the lower jaw which will completely support a set of lower teeth that do not rest at all on the gum.  Because of this, the fixed hybrid teeth will not move or come out of your mouth and will not ever pinch the gums or cause sore spots. The fixed hybrid is cleaned similarly to natural teeth.  Some parts of the supporting framework may be visible if the lips or cheek are artificially pulled back but the hybrid restoration appears very natural during eating, speaking and laughing. There is typically very little annual maintenance associated with this restoration, consisting of removal, cleaning and reinsertion.  Only the teeth and surrounding pink acrylic are replaced when they eventually wear down although the framework and the implants should continue to provide many years of service.
  1. Implant Overdenture:  Two to six implants are placed in the front and possibly back of the upper jaw and a snap attached to the top of each implant. The denture will be modified so that the other ½ of the snap is under the denture and then the denture will snap onto the implants.  The denture is removed with a ‘snap’ whenever desired by you. With a minimum of two implants on each side at the front, the overdenture is partly supported by the implants and partly supported by the gums so that it functions similarly to a regular denture but has better stability and comfort especially when chewing.  With more implants, especially in the back areas, greater stability is achieved and the roof of your mouth may not need to be covered by the denture. An implant overdenture will need simple maintenance including replacement of the part of the snap designed to wear, usually every year or two and likely a reline after some years.  Eventually replacement of the overdenture is needed when the teeth wear down although the implants should continue to function without change.
  2. Fixed (non-removable) Implant Bridge :  Only occasionally is this type of restoration possible for the upper jaw when lip support is not required by a removable denture flange and if the area where the implants connect to the teeth is hidden by the upper lip.  Usually 6 implants are placed on which a set of teeth are attached, that are not removable. Some simulated pink gum around the teeth is also needed. A fixed implant bridge is completely supported by the implants and because of this, the teeth will not move and the teeth will not ever pinch the gums or cause sore spots.  The roof of the mouth is not covered. The fixed implant bridge is cleaned similarly to natural teeth. Some parts of the supporting framework may be visible if the lips or cheek are artificially pulled back but the fixed implant bridge appears very natural during eating, speaking and laughing. There is typically very little annual maintenance associated with this restoration depending on the type of materials used.

Frequently Asked Questions

The first step is typically to design and have a well made denture fabricated and worn to confirm the correct position and alignment of the teeth.  This denture is used to plan the proper implant location, will also indicate how much space exists and how much the gum and bone have shrunken which affects the implant treatments.  An implant guide stent, similar to a construction blue print is then fabricated from your denture which is often used to guide the correct surgical placement of the implants and can also be used if additional x-ray imaging of your jaws is required prior to surgical placement of the implants.  If you still have natural teeth which require removal, this and a denture are usually completed well before the time of implant placement.

Often all the implant surgical treatment can be completed in a single surgery but there are situations when treatment is best completed in multiple stages.  This surgery requires meticulous care in an appropriately prepared office and localized anaesthesia to ensure you are completely comfortable. A denture will be worn following implant placement and during implant healing.  Usually three to five months is required for the bone to solidly stabilize the implants; a process called osseointegration.

The same denture is often modified to become the implant overdenture but a completely new restoration is needed if the goal is a lower fixed implant hybrid or an upper fixed implant bridge. The making of your implant supported restoration is exacting to achieve the optimum results for you and therefore can require multiple appointments with your implant prosthodontist.

Too often implants are quickly placed without the proper planning only to find out that the teeth can not be made in the correct position or the denture is bulky because the implants are in the way.  Implants not correctly positioned may not be able to properly support the teeth or last. The most likely causes for the deterioration or loss of an implant are excessive force on the implant because of poor design or poor surgical technique failing to account for shrunken bone or fragile gum.

Because smoking compromises the body’s ability to heal, there is a somewhat reduced success rate for implants and especially bone rebuilding or grafting in smokers.  You are encouraged to reduce or preferably quit smoking as soon as possible, prior to implant placement

Research has shown that high success rates of over 95% are routinely possible with appropriate implant materials and good surgical technique.  Before starting to fabricate or connect the teeth to the implants, the stability of each implant and bone healing will be assessed with reassurance of success.  In the unlikely event that the bone fails to stabilize the implant, then after implant removal and subsequent healing in the area, a replacement implant can usually be placed.  The implant system and techniques we use are supported by extensive world wide research. In our office we achieve higher success rates, but success can never be guaranteed.

Fixed implant hybrid or bridges with average fit can’t be cleaned properly and are much more likely to result in gum infection and bone loss around the implant which can also affect other implants.

Don’t Be Misled:
Implant dentistry is best completed by a dental specialist who has extensive training and the appropriate knowledge and skills in implant dentistry.  Do not expect your general dentist or a denturist to obtain the results routinely obtainable in our prosthodontic specialty office. General dentists try to stay on top of all the general routine treatments patients need but can’t be expected to be capable of providing specialized treatment.  A denturist is not a doctor or specialist and only completes about a 16 month trade course that allows them to provide a cook book approach to making ‘one style suits all’ dentures. There are some capable dental specialists in Mexico and elsewhere but always beware of ‘discount dentistry’. An attempt to obtain specialty treatment from those without the appropriate training and experience is likely to create problems and regret.

Success is dependent on your daily cleaning and periodic check-ups with any required maintenance.  If you have an implant supported overdenture, then it is removed on a daily basis for cleaning and ideally, not worn during sleep.  Any fixed hybrid or bridge is cleaned similarly to natural teeth with a toothbrush and other cleaning aids.  You will be shown and coached on the techniques necessary to care for your implant restoration.  Success is dependent on your daily cleaning and periodic check-ups with any required maintenance.  

We only use implants that are manufactured with safe biocompatible materials that have been adequately tested and are of a standardized size and shape from a large reputable manufacturer so that our patients can anticipate long term use of their implants for many years and future maintenance and modification of the restoration will be facilitated.  Replacement of missing teeth using these particular dental implants and techniques is supported by volumes of research and has demonstrated successful results for more than thirty years in Sweden and was introduced into North America at the Toronto Conference in 1982. Beware the risks of using new designed product from a new manufacturer who may not remain in business for all the years we expect our implants to last.  

By using specialized knowledge, skill and experience in combination with careful planning and attention to detail, an implant restoration will likely give you many long years of service.

Case Studies

Implant Dentures – Lower Fixed Implant Hybrid

Case Study

Mrs. F.H. was referred to us by her general dentist when she was 51 years old with a complaint that she had loose dentures, needed to wear adhesive and had difficulty eating. Her dentures were getting old and worn but because the jaw bones were very shrunken, only modest improvement could be anticipated from new dentures without implant support. New dentures were completed first to restore the proper appearance, good fit and an even bite. Five implants were placed in the front of the lower jaw onto which specially designed lower teeth were attached. This lower implant hybrid restoration was only supported by the implants and the teeth did not rest on the gum as dentures do. No matter what food was chewed, little seeds or pieces of food couldn’t get pinched against the lower gum. The teeth are attached to the implants, are not removable and are cleaned in a similar manner to real teeth. Despite what might be imagined, the support offered by the implants feels completely natural and comfortable.

Lower Fixed Implant Hybrid - Before

Case Study

Mr. J.T. was fairly recently retired when he was sent to us by his general dentist. Mr. J.T. complained of sores that came and went under his lower denture and although he could eat fairly well, he thought he was just slow at eating. His first and only set of dentures were 25 years old and had never been relined. Examination revealed very deteriorated dentures with a poor fit and bite. The supporting bone in the lower jaw was extremely poor, possibly in part, a result of the very poor denture fit. We have noticed that most patients have no idea how deteriorated their dentures and mouth are because it happens slowly day by day and human nature is to adapt. If deterioration happens slowly enough, most of us don’t even realize that it is happening. Once new dentures were completed, the extent of the deterioration was obvious by comparison with the old dentures. Mr. J.T. agreed with our recommendation that five dental implants in the front of the lower jaw was the best way to give him the best in comfort and security once we finished outlining the several options available. In the span of two weeks Mr. J.T. went from having no implants to having the finished lower teeth attached to the implants in a very efficient and organized approach. As with virtually all patients who go from dentures to implant supported dentures, one of his first comments was “I should have done this years ago.”

Lower Fixed Implant Hybrid - After
Lower Fixed Implant Hybrid - After

Case Study

Mr. J.S. was referred to us by a dentist he consulted when he was 55 years old. He had worn an upper denture for over 40 years and a lower denture for 32 years. He desired comfort, chewing ability and good looking teeth. When he presented to our office, his existing dentures were quite deteriorated with a poor fit and very swollen and inflammed upper gums and a flabby lower gum. His lower denture had fractured into two pieces the night before so the first thing we did following our examination and discussion was to repair the lower denture and place temporary soft liners in both dentures to make some immediate improvements in the existing denture fit and bite. A number of recommendations were also made such as removing the dentures during sleep, massaging his gums with his thumb and forefinger during the initial period of soft liners and through cleaning of the dentures on a daily basis. Once the gums had a chance to recover to a more normal and healthy condition, new dentures were fabricated to obtain the best tooth position for facial profile, lip support, appearance, speech and even bite for eating. Many improvements were evident to Mr. J.S. with his new dentures but he was convinced that dental implants would not only give him further improvement in comfort and function but also help ensure his future comfort and function. Dental implants actually help to slow the process of bone shrinkage that occurs when natural teeth are removed. It is well known that the more the gum and bone shrinks, that the more difficult it is to use dentures which is a terrible thing to consider as you get older. Mr. J.S. scheduled his implants to be placed about three months after his new dentures were completed. It took only about two weeks to completely finish the new teeth (lower fixed implant hybrid restoration) so Mr. J.S. could finally eat without any movement of these teeth and no pinching of his gums. Mr. J.S. is extremely happy with his implants and again, one of his first comments was “I wish I’d done this sooner!”

Case Studies

Implant Dentures – Lower Removable Implant Overdenture

Case Study

Mr. E.F. was 74 when a dentist that he consulted referred him to our office. He had his teeth removed only two years prior and had already had two different sets of dentures made by two different denturists. He said he couldn’t eat meat, only mashed vegetables and that the lower denture teeth were about a ¼ of an inch shorter than his natural teeth. We suggested that new dentures would likely make a number of improvements but dental implants would make an even greater difference. We proceeded to make a new set of dentures, which Mr. E.P. was very happy with and could chew much better. The next year, however, Mr. E.P. told us he wanted a further improvement in chewing and so he decided to proceed with two implants in the front of the lower jaw to support an implant overdenture. This type of denture is held in place with clips that snap onto the implant framework. The denture can be removed at any time by the wearer by simply snapping the denture off the implants and out of the mouth. Mr. E.P. now feels good and has no complaints.

Lower Removable Implant Overdenture - After

Case Study

Mrs. B.H. was referred to us by her dentist when she was 58 years old. She wanted an examination of her mouth because her gums had a whitish appearance which she thought might be a yeast infection. She also wanted a better lower denture than the one another previous dentist had made for her. She had also consulted a third dentist for three months in order to try and adjust her denture. One of her prior dentists had tried unsuccessfully to treat the white lesions in her mouth. A discussion revealed that her mother had died of mouth cancer and she was of course worried about herself. She was under a great deal of stress because her husband had significant medical problems and she had a harmful habit of clenching her teeth. We determined that the white in her mouth was indeed a yeast infection and prescribed the appropriate form of medication as well as described the critically important need to disinfect the dentures on a daily basis and remove the dentures at night. The yeast infection quickly cleared up. We helped her to learn to reduce her clenching but this is difficult to do and not always achievable. Once everything was stabilized with temporary soft liners in her old dentures, Mrs. B.H. realized the potential benefit of implants and decided to proceed with two implants in the front of the lower jaw that would support a lower overdenture and this was made in combination with a new upper denture. Mrs. B.H. has been very happy with her dentures and implants.

Case Studies

Implant Dentures – Upper Removable Implant Overdenture

Case Study

Case Study

Mr. A.K. came to our office when he was 55 years old. He had known for a long time that he was going to loose his teeth and wasn’t looking forward to this. After examination, we determined that he did not yet need to have his lower teeth taken out, but because he had already lost a few upper teeth and others were already quite loose, that it would be best to have an immediate upper denture made and all the remaining upper teeth removed. Mr. A.K. was quite keen on pursuing the use of dental implants to better stabilize the upper denture once healing had adequately progressed following removal of his upper teeth. Seven implants were placed in the upper jaw and following healing, were connected with a framework. Snaps were fitted inside the modified upper denture allowing the denture to be snapped into and out of the mouth whenever desired by Mr. A.K. The part of the denture that covered the roof of his mouth was no longer required and was removed making the teeth seem even less like a denture. As usual, none of the implants, framework or snaps are visible when the teeth are in the mouth. Mr. A.K. can eat whatever he likes, never feels like his teeth might come loose and feels he doesn’t miss out on anything. As anticipated, Mr. A.K. lost his lower teeth and there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to also get dental implants in the lower jaw, which indeed he completed soon afterwards.

Case Study

Mrs. J.R. had a complete upper denture but she had heard about dental implants and really wanted to eliminate the roof of her mouth being covered by her denture. Following consultation at 47 years old, she proceeded with having 8 implants placed into the upper jaw. This provided a very strong foundation onto which a specially designed framework and teeth were attached. The framework design was special in that two locks were incorporated which did not permit the removal of the teeth unless they were unlocked. The teeth, however could be unlocked and removed whenever desired by Mrs. J.R. for cleaning. This provided every possible assurance that the teeth would absolutely stay in place and feel as solid as natural teeth. Mrs. J.R. lives her life like she has natural teeth and loves the way she can feel her food against the roof of her mouth.

Case Study

Mr. K.R. was 42 years old and sadly, had worn a complete upper denture since he was age 15 or 16. Fortunately, he had most of his lower teeth but the gum and bone under the upper denture was quite deteriorated due to the years of wearing a poor upper denture. Mr. K.R. was at the point in his life where he could finally afford to fix his teeth and begin to enjoy a higher quality of life. Mr. K.R. was sent to us by his general dentist who wasn’t sure he could provide an adequate new upper denture and fix the lower teeth as there were many difficulties in coordinating the type of care that would be required. We reviewed the nature of the required treatment with this very concerned dentist who was relieved that we were confident of some promising solutions. Following a discussion on the possible use and benefits of dental implants Mr. K.R. wanted to immediately proceed. A new upper denture was completed in conjunction with fixing and replacing the teeth in the lower jaw. Once the upper denture was finished with its improved appearance and better bite, bone grafting was required to rebuild the deteriorated bone followed by 8 implants. These implants provided enough support to completely support the upper teeth which were attached to the implants by a precisely fabricated interlocking framework. The teeth were made removable for cleaning but were held in place by two locks against the implants so they would feel and work as close to natural teeth as possible. The roof of the mouth was not covered any more by the denture. Mr. K.R. is very happy with his new teeth and we are happy to report success to his concerned dentist.