Implant Retained Dentures

Although some patients have no problem wearing a conventional denture, other people find it difficult and uncomfortable to wear and eat with dentures. The addition of strategically placed dental implants can provide patients with the same stability, function, comfort, and improved oral health outcomes as full mouth prosthodontic implant restorations at a more affordable price. Choosing to invest in implant retained dentures is  the best alternative for many patients.

There are two main categories of implant retained dentures, Implant Supported and Implant Assisted. The following information describes the benefits and limitations of these different categories, and the specific types of design options and applications within each category.

IMPLANT SUPPORTED DENTURE

With implant supported dentures, between four and six implants are placed in the jaw and a titanium reinforced denture is made that attaches onto these dental implants. This style of denture does not rest directly on the tissue; instead, it transfers the pressure of chewing through the denture to the implants in a way that mimics the function of healthy, natural teeth.

  • Greater Comfort and Improved Function: Implant supported dentures are more stable, which means they are more comfortable to wear and more convenient. The greater stability of implant supported dentures allow for better biting and chewing function, with fewer food limitations. Implant supported dentures can be designed to follow the contour of your jaw, eliminating the need to cover the roof of your mouth found with a conventional denture “plate”. This open palate design feels natural, improves comfort, and increases the ability to fully taste food.
  • Better Long-Term Oral Health: In addition to increased stability, implant supported dentures transfer biting and chewing forces in a way that resembles the function of healthy, natural, teeth. In contrast, conventional dentures rely on your gum tissues and the bone structures underneath to support them. Over time, conventional dentures wear away these gum tissues and bone structures due to the continual pressure and movements that occur as you wear and eat with conventional dentures. This loosens the fit of a conventional denture, creating discomfort and difficulty with everyday functions like speaking, chewing and especially smiling. Implant supported dentures help prevent this bone and tissue loss.
  • Lower Cost to Maintain: The gradual loss of bone and tissue associated with conventional dentures requires the need for regular maintenance (relines and bite adjustments) to keep the denture fitting comfortably and securely. Implant supported dentures eliminate these future costs.

There are three ways that implant supported dentures can be designed to connect to the implant: Bar retained, Screw retained, and Attachment retained.

Bar Retained Denture

Also called a Bar Overdenture, for this method a custom-fitted titanium support bar is first made to screw onto the implants. The overdenture is then created with special internal locking pins (MK1) that attach onto this titanium support bar, enabling the denture to lock firmly into place. The bar allows bite forces to be evenly transferred from the denture to the implants without contacting the tissue.

This option eliminates palate coverage, is very strong and stable with minimal movement, while still being removable by the patient for easy cleaning and maintenance.


A mouth that has all teeth missing on its lower jaw
1. Before
A mouth without teeth and four implants connected by a metal bar on its lower jaw
2. Implants Placed
A mouth with a Bar Attachment Denture secured onto the lower jaw by four implants
3. Denture Attached

Screw Retained Denture

Like the bar retained denture design, this option also starts with a custom-made titanium support bar. However, for this design the denture teeth and acrylic are then directly bonded to the support bar and screwed onto the implants. The result is a permanently affixed denture with no movement. Unlike other types of dentures, this option cannot be removed except by a dental professional during maintenance visits.

Patients choose this design because it feels the most natural in the mouth, leaves the upper palate uncovered, and performs the most like natural teeth. For many patients, knowing that they will never been seen with their ‘teeth out’, except by dental professionals, provides valuable confidence and peace of mind.

Screw retained dentures do not touch the tissue, which allows patients to clean under the denture while it is in place. However, cleaning under this type of denture is more time consuming and requires more dexterity than a denture that you can easily remove to clean.

A mouth that has all lower jaw teeth missing
1. Before
A mouth that has six implants and no teeth on its lower jaw
2. Implants Placed
A mouth with a Screw Attachment Denture affixed onto the lower jaw by six implants
3. Denture Attached

Attachment Retained Denture

A third implant supported option involves creating a denture that can snap/click onto the implants through the use of attachments. The primary benefit of this design is that it avoids the expense of the custom titanium bar used in the other two implant supported denture designs. This option works best if there are six implants for the denture to attach to, since there is no internal bar to evenly transfer bite pressure. The patient will still need to come in periodically to have the attachment inserts, which function as shock absorbers, changed out as they wear.

A mouth that has all lower jaw teeth missing
1. Before
A mouth that has six implants and no teeth on its lower jaw
2. Implants Placed
A mouth with a Screw Attachment Denture affixed onto the lower jaw by six implants
3. Denture Attached

Implant ASSISTED Denture

As the name implies, this type of denture is only assisted by, rather than fully supported by, the implants. This offers an intermediary approach, with better stability, comfort, and function compared with a conventional denture, but without the full benefits provided by implant supported dentures.

For implant assisted dentures, typically two implants are placed in either jaw with a denture that connects to the dental implants using attachments.

A mouth with the lower jaw missing all of its teeth
1. Before
A mouth with the lower jaw with two implants and no bottom teeth
2. Implants Placed
A mouth with a Ball Attachment Denture latched onto the lower jaw by two implants
3. Denture Attached

Benefits: Implant assisted dentures are the lowest cost option for utilizing implants to improve stability and comfort.

  • This approach is a great option for patients who want to incrementally build towards a completely implant supported restoration plan. The two implants used can be placed as the first phase in a plan that includes adding more implants in the future.
  • For many patients, this is the most cost-effective approach, especially for minimizing the issues with retention and instability typically found in conventional dentures.

Limitations: Implant assisted dentures cannot provide the full benefits of a completely implant supported denture. The limitations of implant assisted dentures include:

  • The denture still rests against the tissue which means that over time some bone and tissue loss still occur, although less than with a conventional denture.
  • Implant assisted dentures require periodic relines. As with all removable replacement teeth, you still will need periodic appointments for denture adjustment.
  • This option relies on attachment inserts to act as shock absorbers. These are designed to be replaced as they wear out.
  • Unlike implant supported dentures, this option requires full palatal coverage for upper dentures.

Contact Us Today

The first step towards a beautiful, healthy smile is to schedule an appointment. Please contact our office by phone or complete the appointment request form below. Our scheduling coordinator will contact you to confirm your appointment. If you are an existing patient, this contact form should not be utilized for communicating private health information.
  • Privacy Policy