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Implants In Denture Restorations

Dental implants are metal devices which are inserted into the jawbone where teeth are missing. Usually made from titanium or a titanium alloy, they are shaped to resemble a tooth root. These metal anchors act as substitutes for the missing tooth root. Once they are surgically placed into the jawbone, the bone bonds with the titanium, creating a strong foundation for artificial teeth.

If implants are replacing one or a few teeth, small posts are then attached to the implant, which protrude through the gums. Crowns or bridges are then cemented to these posts.

When several or all of the teeth are missing, the implants can be used to anchor removable appliances, either complete or partial dentures. In these applications, the surgeon and the restorative dentist work together to determine the number, size, and optimal location for the implants. The implants are then placed, and adequate time is allowed for the bone to begin bonding to the implant. This time varies depending upon the type of implant, type of bone present, and surgical procedure used.

Once the implants are stable, special posts are placed onto the implants. These posts protrude through the gums, and have an ball-like attachment on the tip (there are several different types and shapes of these attachments). The denture then has corresponding receptacles placed within the denture acrylic, and the denture then will snap into place.

Implant-retained dentures offer many advantages over conventional dentures:

1) Lower dentures almost always move when talking and chewing. The tongue, lips, and cheek muscles exert forces which tend to un-seat the dentures. With implants, this movement is either eliminated or greatly reduced, allowing for stability during all activities.

2) Upper dentures may also move, especially when the patient's palate is small, or the bone has eroded. Implants will hold the dentures in position during function, even when biting with the front teeth!

3) Many patients are bothered by the palatal portion of the upper denture. This palatal coverage can effect speech, taste, and temperature sensation. With placement of an adequate number of implants, the denture can be modified to a horse-shoe shape, with no palate!

Implants are a wonderful adjunct to denture wear. When used with a properly designed fabricated denture, they can greatly enhance the lifestyle of the patient.

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