A permanent denture is an implant supported denture that cannot be taken out by the patient as is the case with a traditional denture. A permanent denture may be referred to as an all-on-4, 6, or 8, depending on the number of implants it utilizes. Some patients feel that a traditional denture put limitations on their everyday lives, socially, romantically, and even professionally. Many patients avoid eating some of their favorite foods that are difficult to consume with a traditional denture or the denture is ill-fitting, and may be embarrassed eating and speaking around others. Advances and dental technology have made it possible for a patient to have a life changing implant-supported denture!
What are the benefits of a permanent denture?
Comfort is one of the biggest issues that patients face wearing a traditional denture face. Since the denture is held in place simply with suction and adhesives, they can easily slip around in the mouth and cause irritation and sores on the gum tissue. This can become a hindrance and can be painful when the wearer is eating or speaking. A permanent denture is affixed to dental implants which are surgically placed directly into the jaw bone and cannot slip in the patient's mouth.
A traditional denture sits on top of the gum tissue and overtime, can lead to bone deterioration in the jaw causing changes in facial structure and the fit of the denture. The roots of natural teeth help stimulate bone regeneration and without them, the bone begins to deteriorate. Dental implants act as the root of a tooth and therefore help stimulate bone growth and prevent deterioration. Bone health alone is just one reason that a permanent denture may be the overall healthier option for many patients.
Another huge benefit of a permanent denture is aesthetics! A lot of patients find that a permanent denture is much more natural looking than a traditional denture and they also have a longer lifespan. A permanent denture is much more expensive than a traditional denture in the beginning but because a permanent denture is so much more stable, they are able to last decades longer than a traditional denture so in the long run, maybe the more cost effective treatment option for some patients. A traditional denture may only last 10 to 15 years before it needs to be replaced due to normal wear and tear and bone deterioration. A permanent denture can easily last 20 years before just the denture part needs to be replaced, if ever. Dental implants can last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance so that part of the cost of a permanent denture is usually a one-time expense.
How is a permanent denture placed?
Before beginning any treatment, your dentist will perform a thorough examination and study your dental x-rays to make sure that you are a candidate for an implant supported denture. If they believe that you are able to receive implants, they will refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. An oral surgeon or periodontist is the dental specialist that will surgically place your dental implants and your dentist will place the denture. Be sure that you provide both your dentist and implant specialist with a complete and current medical history including any and all medication that you are currently taking.
At your first visit with the implant specialist, they will examine your x-rays and your mouth to evaluate your bone level before they discuss your options with you. If they determine that you have sufficient bone and gum structure, you will likely be cleared as an ideal candidate for dental implants and a permanent denture. Patients that do not have sufficient bone structure may need to undergo a bone graft before the implants can be placed. A bone graft is a preparatory surgery that is performed to ensure proper bone health for a stable foundation for your implants. Your implant specialist can perform your bone graft as well so you do not need another doctor! For your bone graft, an incision will be made in the area to be treated and a piece of bone from another area of your mouth or perhaps even your hip or a cadaver donor will be harvested and placed in the area being treated. Your bone graft will then be allowed to heal before the implants are placed. A bone graft or even a gum graft is necessary if you do not have enough structure to ensure the success of your implants.
For your implant surgery, your doctor will make a small incision into the gum tissue and drill a small hole directly into the jaw bone and place the dental implant. The implant is then covered with a temporary abutment, or healing cap, as well as a temporary denture for you to wear while you heal. Dental implants may be left to heal for up to six months, depending on your body’s individual healing abilities. You may experience some mild discomfort for a few days after implant surgery but this is normal and should subside within a week or so. You may also notice some bruising and swelling of your face and going to issue an even minor bleeding and/or soreness at the implant site but these are all common side effects after implant placement surgery and should subside within a few days. If you have any symptoms that persist and are not getting better after a few days, they should be addressed by your doctor to make sure you're not developing an infection at your new implant site.
Most patients are able to manage their pain with a cold compress and over-the-counter pain medications. It can also be soothing to rinse your mouth with warm salt water, especially after eating, to help keep the area clean and food particles and to help with swelling. For a couple of weeks immediately following surgery, he will be advised to stick to a soft food diet to help ease any pressure on your implants from chewing. Your doctor will let you know when it is alright for you to eat normal foods again!
Implant placement surgery is invasive and does require up to six months of healing time before your dentist can place your permanent denture. During this healing time, your dental implants will integrate with your jawbone which is what allows you to have such a stable and secure foundation for your permanent denture.
Am I a candidate for a permanent denture?
Before any patient is considered a candidate for implant placement, their overall health will need to be assessed. Patients who have pre-existing conditions such as osteoporosis or diabetes may need to have other options available but this does not mean that such patients cannot have a dental implant! Most healthy adult patients of any age can have dental implants and a permanent denture. Before you begin any treatment, it is important to discuss your concerns and goals with your doctors so that they can help you determine what path of treatment will best serve you.