Can I Get Dental Implants if I Already Have Dentures?

If you are wearing dentures, but dissatisfied with how they feel, how you can chew with them, how well you can speak, and concerned about having to adjust them regularly, you may wonder if you can switch to dental implants. These are screws that are inserted into the jaw to replace tooth roots and are made of biocompatible material.

Differences with Dentures

The biggest difference between any kind of regular denture–a full set that is attached to the gums with adhesives or a partial that can be removed at night–is that they do not stop the natural erosion of the jaw bone after teeth are missing, which is why they had to be refitted to the gums after a number of years. When a tooth root is missing, the alveolar bone which anchors the teeth into the jaw no longer is stimulated by chewing, which signals the mouth that this area does not need bone and it begins to be absorbed, causing neighboring teeth to shift. Eventually, this misalignment will lead to other teeth falling out or needing to be extracted.

In many cases, there is enough bone remaining that you can have implants replace the denture in one of several ways:

  • If all or most of your teeth are missing, you could have all of them replaced by individual implants, although while ideal, is an expensive and long-term process. If your jawbone has receded significantly, you may first need a bone graft placed to strengthen it, which will require several months to heal before the implant process can start. Replacing a partial is clearly much easier and less costly.
  • You could have a complete denture fitted over the gums, but anchored by as many implants as Dr. Cluff feels will stop the erosion, which is known as an overdenture.
  • An All-on-4 implant platform can hold as many dental crowns (which look like the visible part of natural teeth) as there are missing teeth, but it is anchored into the jaw by just four implant screws per arch (the upper or lower sets typically have 16 teeth).  

Dental Implants Maintenance

All implants need to be cleaned just like natural teeth and kept free of plaque (the sticky bacterial film that forms around food particles that have not been brushed or flossed away). You will also need to have a professional cleaning by your dental hygienist at least twice a year, more frequently if she finds serious periodontal (gum) infections each time.

Not everyone can qualify for implants of any kind, especially heavy smokers, those whose diabetes or osteoporosis is not under control, who have untreated cardiovascular disease or autoimmune disorders, or have had radiation treatments of the head in the prior five years. 

But if you can switch to dental implants they can become a permanent solution to missing teeth. Call for an appointment to have a physical examination of your mouth and to discuss your best options.