How Dental Implants Can Improve Denture Function

Denture supported by dental implants
Affordable dentures in Batavia while being implant supported in Blue Ash dental office

The addition of dental implants can make dentures feel more natural and functional, when compared to dentures worm without any implant anchor. They provide denture-wearers with much more confidence and freedom.

Though dentures can offer a significant improvement to daily mouth function, most denture-wearers will be quick to tell you that dentures aren’t perfect. Even after the learning curve, it can be difficult to eat certain foods or speak normally with dentures.

But there’s hope for improved denture function, and they’re called dental implants.

When replacing single missing teeth, a dental implant is a permanent tooth replacement option that uses a small titanium post—inserted into the jawbone—to serve as the “tooth root.” A life-like dental crown is then attached to the post for a natural-looking and natural-feeling tooth replacement.

For a completely toothless patient with dentures, a specialized “locator attachment” is used instead of a crown. The attachment can be made to anchor the denture to the implant, resulting in an easy-to-wear denture option.

“When implants serve as anchors, dentures function more naturally,” says Dr. Moorehead.

For denture wearers, the most common scenario is to place two to four implants into the mandible (lower jaw). Dentures then snap onto the locator attachments to provide steadier chewing and speaking. 

“Unlike the upper dentures, which rely on suction against the palate to hold them in place, the lower dentures only rely on the lips, tongue, and cheeks to hold them in place, which can make them less stable,” Dr. Moorehead explains. “Of course, implants can also be used on the upper denture for increased stability, though it’s a little less common.”

The presence of ample bone is a key component of properly functioning dentures. The less bone that is present, the more likely dentures are to slip. Because bone needs “stimulation” to maintain its density, the bone below missing teeth will gradually deteriorate. Unfortunately, this is a catch-22 for long-time denture-wearers because while they need bone to hold dentures in place, that very bone is gradually deteriorating beneath their dentures.

This is a problem that can be rectified (or even reversed) with dental implants. The insertion of a dental implant can serve as the necessary “stimulation” a bone needs to remain strong and healthy.

“For patients with dentures and even just a few implants, the bone surrounding the implants is being preserved because of the stimulation,” says Dr. Moorehead.

Here is what to expect from the dental implant process:

  • First appointment: consultation, x-rays, evaluation of remaining bone, scheduling the surgery
  • Second appointment: placement of implants (titanium posts), then allow 3-6 months for implants to osseointegrate (heal and attach to bone)
  • Third appointment: impressions made for the attachments, which allow dentures to snap onto the implant
  • Fourth appointment: deliver the attachments and integrate implants into the denture

“While dentures will never be a complete substitution for a full set of healthy teeth, the addition of dental implants can make them feel more natural and functional,” says Dr. Moorehead. “They provide denture-wearers with much more confidence and freedom from embarrassing situations.”