- Implant placement: The dental implants, which resemble small screws made of titanium, are surgically placed in the jawbone. In effect, a dental implant replaces the tooth's natural root. Each implant is inserted into the gums and jawbone through a small incision. One of the advantages of implant-supported dentures is that fewer implants can be placed than teeth. For complete upper dentures, between six and eight implants are placed. For complete lower dentures, four to five implants are placed. After the implants have been placed, the gums and bone will take three to six months to grown in around the implant, a process called osseointegration.
- Hardware attachment: Once the gums have healed, the snap, bar, or abutment is attached to the titanium implant. This is accomplished by reopening the gum tissue to expose the dental implant. The hardware is then attached to the dental implant, and the gums are allowed two weeks to heal around the abutment.
- Tooth restoration: The tooth restoration phase is the most exciting part of the implant-supported dentures treatment process. At this time, the custom-made dentures are secured to the hardware that is attached to the implant.
The Dentures Fabrication Process
While you are undergoing the dental implant placement process, your dentist's lab will begin to fabricate your dentures. The dentures fabrication process involves:
- Impressions: When the gums have sufficiently healed and are determined to be in healthy condition, your dentist can take impressions of your teeth using digital technology or dental putty.
- Creation of model prosthetics: Before your final dentures are crafted, your dentist may have a wax model made so he or she can check the fit and appearance of the dentures. This allows for some modifications to the design.
- Fabrication of final dentures: When you and your dentist are satisfied with the fit and look of the dentures, a dental lab technician or prosthodontist will create the prosthetic out of durable and natural looking dental materials.
- Adjustments: After your final dentures are made and attached to the dental implants, the fit or look of the dentures may be adjusted.
After implant-supported dentures are in place, patients should properly care for their teeth and gums. The dentures, gums, and tongue should be brushed twice a day. Patients should also floss daily to remove debris between the teeth; though false teeth won't become damaged by decay, plaque build-up can still cause gum disease and bad breath. Patients with dentures should also schedule dental visits every six months so their dentists can check the fit of the dentures and look for signs of dental problems.
The cost of implant-supported dentures depends on the health of your teeth and gums, the number of teeth that need replacement, and the quality of the dental restoration.
- Custom, porcelain dentures (full upper and lower set): $1,500-$4,000
- Oral surgery with traditional dental implants: $1,000-$3,000 per implant (six to eight implants are required for the upper jaw, while four to five implants are required for the lower jaw.)
- Oral surgery with mini dental implants: $500-$1,500 per implant