Can You Upgrade to Implant-Supported Dentures from Implant-Retained Dentures?

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People often lose patience with the limitations of traditional dentures. Dentures are often loose-fitting and slip out of place. They make it hard to chew, which makes you give up many of your favorite foods. Plus, difficulty speaking and uncertainty about whether you will lose dentures when talking or laughing can make you give up going out with friends. Your life just feels so limited that you have to do something.

Implant-retained dentures, such as snap-in dentures, are a common answer to these problems. With implant-retained dentures, dental implants hold the denture in place. However, this might not be the full solution you need. Instead, it might be necessary to upgrade to implant-supported dentures. 

Understanding Retained and Supported Dentures

Implant dentures come in two different designs: implant-retained dentures and implant-supported dentures. 

Implant-retained dentures use implants only to hold the denture in place. This keeps dentures from coming out of your mouth, but it doesn’t take most of the force from biting and chewing. That still presses down on your gums, the way it does with traditional dentures.

With implant-supported dentures, like All-on-X implant dentures, though, the denture directs the bite into the implants and then to the bone. This gives you a firm foundation to support biting and chewing, so your bite force is almost as strong as it was with natural teeth.

Retained Dentures Have Limitations

Why would people want to upgrade their implant-retained dentures? Implant-retained dentures have some benefits: they stay in place and are unlikely to pop out when talking, coughing, laughing, or sneezing.

But implant-retained dentures still put most of the force of biting and chewing on your gums. This can lead to some problems like:

  • Reduced bite force
  • Dentures coming out when biting or chewing
  • Painful or sore gums

Implant-retained dentures improve your bite force over traditional dentures. They are secure in place, which lets you bite down harder. For some people, this is enough for enjoying life as they want to live it. For others, the bite force is still not strong enough to enjoy the favorite foods they ate when they had natural teeth.

And sometimes the increased bite force causes problems. Your partial bite force might be enough to dislodge your dentures when you bite or chew with them. Biting and chewing with more bite force pressing on your gums can also make them sore.

As a result, some people look to upgrade their dentures further. 

Can You Get Implant-Supported Dentures?

Most people are able to upgrade from implant-retained dentures to implant-supported dentures. 

The big issue is whether you have enough bone to support additional implants. You’re most likely to have the necessary bone if you decide to upgrade soon after having your natural teeth removed. That’s because the body starts removing the bone that used to support your natural teeth as soon as those teeth are gone. Implants can help your body retain that bone, but dentures don’t. Sometimes dentures even speed the loss of bone in your jaw, so it’s best not to spend too long with traditional dentures or retained dentures before upgrading.

Many implant-retained dentures rely on only two implants. However, implant-supported dentures typically use four to six implants. Implant dentist Dr. Rod Strober can talk to you about your goals so you can decide which is best for you. 

You might also have to replace your dentures. Many dentures designed as traditional or retained dentures are just not strong enough to withstand bite forces as an implant-supported denture. Your upgraded denture will likely be of an advanced ceramic that is strong enough to hold up under the bite pressures in your mouth. A solution like CeraSmile® is an ideal choice to upgrade both function and appearance.

What about Fixed or Hybrid Dentures?

Implant-supported dentures are usually removable. However, if you want, you can consider getting fixed dentures, also called “hybrid dentures.” These dentures are solidly attached in your mouth, removable only by an implant dentist.

Hybrid dentures have some benefits. You won’t be taking your dentures out and putting them in a glass at night. You will always be able to smile at your spouse or significant other, even when you wake up in the middle of the night. Not to mention smiling at yourself in the mirror. People also find that this makes dentures feel more like a part of themselves, instead of having something that sits in their mouth. The fully screwed in attachment means these dentures will absolutely not dislodge under normal circumstances.

People might also benefit medically from hybrid dentures. When you take dentures out at night, your jaw might move into an unhealthy position. You can develop jaw pain or headaches. It’s also more likely that your airway will collapse when sleeping without dentures, increasing your risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

However, it is harder to keep fully fixed dentures clean and healthy. If you can’t clean fixed dentures well enough when they’re in your mouth, you might need removable dentures to ensure they stay clean. Otherwise, gum disease could develop that might lead to implant failure. 

Talk to an Implant Dentist in Rancho Mirage

If you want to learn about upgrading your dentures from implant-retained to implant-supported, implant dentist Dr. Rod Strober can help. He will evaluate the health of your jaws and gums to make sure implant-supported dentures are a reasonable choice for you.

Please call (760) 832-7915 or use our online contact form to request a consultation at Country Club Dentistry in Rancho Mirage, CA.

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