This is a technique where implants are used to stabilise dentures and not provide fixed teeth.
The purpose of the implants is usually used to provide support for removable dentures so that the biting load is directed to the implants and not the fragile gum. The dentures are prevented from moving and coming out unless the patient removes them. This aids comfort and enjoyment of eating and reduces the embarrassment and discomfort of loose dentures. Over-dentures are often used as a temporary restoration during more complex fixed implant or bone graft treatment. This technique often employs ‘mini’ dental implants in conjunction with ‘O’ ring housings.
- After a full assessment a report is generated and a treatment plan is agreed with the patient.
- Usually the method of stabilising dentures with implants employs implants with ball attachments and the rest of the discussion is based upon this technique.
- If the existing dentures are satisfactory in all respects they will be used to engage the implant housings containing the rubber ‘O’ rings and if not a new set of dentures will be made as the definitive set. This definitive set may be made before the implants are placed or after they have been placed and healed strongly. Either technique is fine.
- On the day of the surgery the implants will be placed; the ball attachments are either integral to the implants or are connected to them. The dentures are then adjusted and the housings containing the rubber ‘O’ rings are connected to the denture so that the housings engage the ball attachments on the implants thereby stabilising the dentures.
- If it is felt desirable to not engage the ball attachments, the implants will be left in place until they are integrated enough to be connected to the denture.
- A review is arranged when everything can be checked and minor adjustments are made.
- If a definitive denture is yet to be made this will often be done say three months after the implants are placed so that they are fully integrated.
- In the upper jaw a minimum of four implants are used and in the lower jaw two may suffice because the bone here is usually of better quality.
Benefits of Over-dentures
- The placement of smaller diameter implants involves techniques that are less invasive.
- This results in less downtime and less trauma for the patient.
- The patient’s gums often will not be cut or stitched, which means that the patient will experience a less painful and quicker healing process.
- The quick placement of implants allows the patient to experience the convenience of using the implants immediately with all their benefits after they are placed, usually without the need to wait for months to fully utilize the implants.
- Over-denture implants can be more cost-effective compared to complex fixed conventional dental implant treatment.
- This technique is suited to patients who wish to have an economical solution to loose and uncomfortable dentures and /or those who wish to avoid lengthy, complex and expensive treatments often involving bone grafting.
Cautions of Mini Dental Implants
- ALL implants including the mini type involve surgery
- There is no such thing as non invasive implants.
- ALL implants have to follow strict protocols with respect to dentist training, assessment, planning, placement etc. There are no short cuts.
- Generally these implants are used to support removable dentures or temporary restorations. Over-dentures are not going to satisfy those patients who wish to have fixed teeth.
Alternatives to Ball Attachment Implants
- This technique can be used with modifications in the following ways:
- The implants can have magnets attached to them instead of balls to engage magnets in the denture housing.
- As above but instead of balls the implants can have other attachments rather than balls but essentially the same job is done.
- The implants can be connected by bars to engage precision attachments in the denture. This provides a very effective retention and stabilisation but is a much more expensive technique than the simple ball attachments.