The lower denture is uncomfortable for nearly every person who wears one. Why is the lower denture a problem much more often than the upper? The upper is made as a large suction cup that covers the entire palate. It takes advantage of a large surface area to seal it to the surrounding tissue.
But the lower denture doesn’t have nearly that kind of support. The only support that it gets is from a pencil-thin ridge. Often that ridge is sharp, producing sore spots. That ridge gradually deteriorates, reducing the denture support even more. When the tongue moves, the denture moves. When you pronounce some words, the lips dislodge the denture. And if you laugh or sneeze? You’ll have your hand over your mouth immediately not because of good manners, but because you’re afraid that the denture will fly out of your mouth.
There are dental implant supports available for an existing lower denture, the simplest being the one piece implant. The one-piece implant has two basic components, a screw-like portion that goes into the bone and a snap-like portion that emerges from the gum. The big bonus in the one-piece implant is that the entire procedure is done in one day. The implant is placed, and the existing denture is relined chairside with a silicone material that engages the “snap” in the implant. You literally walk in with a floating denture and walk out with teeth that are snapped in place.
Here are the requirements for a one-piece implant-supported denture:
- A denture that has good occlusion (bite) with the opposing arch.
- A denture that does not rock when firm pressure is placed on it.
- A dental CT scan so that the dentist can see the amount and shape of the bone. This allows the dentist to plan the length and diameter of the implants as well as diagnosing the best positions for the implants to be parallel.
This can be done on the upper arch as well. We usually use 4-5 implants on the lower and 5-7 implants on the upper, depending on the amount of supporting bone that is present.
The procedure goes like this:
The dentist makes a small incision into the gum area and removes any rough areas of bone that could cause irritation. A small hole is made into the bone. The implant is screwed into place. The remaining implants are then placed in a similar fashion. Small stitches are then placed. These stitches melt away in a few days.
The inside of the denture is hollowed out to create room for the silicone reline material. The reline material is placed into the denture and then in the patient’s mouth, allowing it to set over the “snap” portions of the implants. The denture is then removed, excess silicone is trimmed away, and seated back in the mouth. The entire process takes less than two hours. It is not unusual for the periodontist or oral surgeon to do the implant surgery, and your general dentist do the reline.
After healing is complete, you remove the denture and clean it once a day, just as before.
The one-piece implant allows you to stop thinking about your teeth, allows you to eat foods that you’ve been avoiding, and gives you the confidence to talk, smile, and laugh, knowing that your denture will not come loose. It has helped thousands.
Lee N. Sheldon, DMD