For patients looking for a better, more comfortable way to wear a denture, a snap-on denture provides increased denture stability and retention by snapping the removable denture onto at least two dental implants. As a rule, it is not necessary to use more than two implants to achieve the desired result. In fact, utilizing more than two implants can create issues with ease of insertion and removal. An "implant attachment" on the top of the implant is used to create a snapping mechanism, which is strong enough to keep the denture in position during chewing. It also allows for relatively easy removal of the denture for daily cleaning and maintenance.
In addition, the bone around what was the tooth roots will deteriorate over time. This will lead to a collapsed, unattractive smile. With dental implants that integrate into the jawbone, the bone remains healthy and keeps the natural smile intact.
The overdenture attachments keep the denture from pressing down too hard on the gum line without the typical discomfort a traditional denture wearer experiences when biting down hard. Most implant overdenture wearers report significant improvement in the level of comfort and function that an overdenture provides versus a traditional lower denture.
Implant-supported overdentures can be less than ideal for a patient depending on treatment objectives. Compared to a typical denture, overdenture function is an improvement, but significantly less than the functionality of one’s natural teeth. Research indicates that a denture wearer’s function is only at 20% of full function. Overdentures can improve that percentage to 40 to 50% of normal biting force, but this still is well below what many people would expect from permanent tooth replacement using dental implants.
Over time, maintenance is required with any implant supported overdenture. The most common issue is wear and tear on the attachments. With repeated snapping in and out, the overdenture attachments eventually wear out over time, resulting in diminished snap retention and perceived looseness of the overdenture. A typical replacement schedule is every 12 to 18 months. This maintenance procedure can be done at a normal cleaning appointment or as needed. There is a cost associated with replacement of the attachment parts, much like any regular maintenance. In addition, over time, the gum line may reduce or resorb, causing the snap-on denture to require occasional re-fitting. One should expect to reline an implant overdenture every three to five years to maintain optimal fit.
Conventional dentures present a good option for full mouth tooth replacement because they can be the most cost-effective way to replace all of the upper teeth, lower teeth, or both. With well-made complete dentures, patients should minimally expect to restore their esthetics and facial support.
The biggest disadvantages of complete dentures are a greatly diminished ability to chew, due to their poor stability and retention. Dental function is compromised with complete dentures, which causes difficulty eating the foods that require tearing and heavy chewing. For example, biting into a turkey sandwich would be quite difficult for most denture wearers, as would chewing most meats. Most denture patients would describe that wearing a lower denture is much more limiting and problematic than wearing an upper denture. A lower denture’s instability stems from the tongue’s movement, which dislodges the denture during chewing and speaking.