Dental implants are the ideal way to hold your dentures in place. The implants attach to your bone, and the dentures snap onto the implants. This holds the dentures firmly and eliminates problems with slipping while eating and speaking. Getting implants can be a long and involved process that is done in stages over several months. This is what you can expect.
Optional Bone Graft
You may not need to have a bone graft. However, if your jawbone is too thin or shallow to hold an implant in place, your dentist may decide a bone graft is necessary. To do this surgery, the dentist uses donor bone to make your jawbone thicker. Your natural bone has to fuse with the donor bone over a period of several months before you can proceed with the other stages of the implant procedure.
The Implant Procedure
An implant is a small titanium rod that's inserted into your jawbone to hold an artificial tooth in place the same way a root holds a natural tooth in place. If you're having implants for dentures, you may have implants for the lower plates only, since those are usually the ones that slip. You could also get implants for the upper plates as well. You only need a few implants to hold dentures in place. The lower plates require two implants while the upper ones could need as many as six.
You will probably get your implants in your dentist's office using local anesthesia. Although the procedure sounds painful, you won't feel anything until the anesthesia wears off. After that, you may feel some soreness in your jaw for a few days.
The Abutment Addition
Once your bone has fused with the implant, it's time to add the abutment. The abutment is a small metal piece that screws onto the titanium rod and connects with your dentures. It could take several months for the implant to proceed to this step. The fusion has to be complete first, so the implant will be secure when you chew. When it's ready, the dentist has to open your gum, so the abutment can be attached to the implant.
Snapping On The Dentures
Once the abutment is attached, your dentist can adjust your dentures to snap onto the implants. You may have new dentures made, or you might have snaps added to your old dentures. Once your dentures are in place, they will be just as secure as your natural teeth. You can chew and tear food without dislodging them. You'll be able to speak without slipping and whistling. You can snap off the plates every day for brushing and soaking.
Going through the dental implant process is long and involved because you have to allow ample time for your jawbone to heal between each step. During that time, you can wear regular dentures since the implants will be under your gums and out of sight. For more information, contact a local dentist or implant specialist (such as Olympia Dental and Implant Center).