How Long Do Implant Retained Dentures Last?
Implant retained dentures – otherwise known as “all on four” or “clip-on” dentures – are a trusted and durable form of tooth replacement technology that both dentists and their patients typically prefer over conventional dentures. Part of the reason behind that preference, along with their attractive appearance and ease of wear, has to do with their time-tested durability.
Basic Structure of an Implant Retained Denture
An implant retained denture gains this durability from the deep-seated structure of the dental implants that support it. Unlike conventional dentures that merely rest on the existing structure of the gumline to hold them in place, implant retained dentures snap on to implant fixtures embedded deep into the jawbone. These implant fixtures in many ways mimic the structure of natural tooth roots, integrating with the bone over time and offering a firmly anchored support system for the dentures that operate above the gumline.
While dental implants that support a single crown need one implant fixture per tooth, implant retained dentures require far less. In fact, the name “all on four” is derived from the practice of retaining and entire arch on just four strategically placed implants. Typically, two to four implants are required to support a lower arch, but four is the minimum that can support an upper arch; six is generally preferred in that case. Once the implants are installed, adequate time has been allowed for osseointegration, and all tissues have healed, a connecting piece will be attached that the dentures will snap onto.
Because the implants have to be surgically embedded into the jawbone, implant retained dentures do require a baseline amount of healthy bone mass. In the absence of enough healthy bone mass to support regular implant retained dentures, mini implants can sometimes be an option, as can bone grafting.
How to Make Implant Retained Dentures Last
While no dental appliance lasts forever, implant retained dentures provide fully functional and attractive service to their wearer for about fifteen years on average. The structural components can last a lifetime, meaning that any repairs or replacements of implant retained dentures typically only apply to the dentures themselves, not the implant fixtures that hold them in place.
To make implant retained dentures last, it is important to take care of them. This means cleaning them regularly, keeping up with routine dental visits, and repairing or replacing any small parts that might need attention over time. The small nylon rings that help connect the dentures to the implants, for example, tend to wear out and need replacement; by keeping up with these minor repairs as they arise you are essentially taking care of the whole system. In your own daily life, it is also important to take care not to push the limits of what your implant retained dentures are able to handle. While implant retained dentures are strong, they aren’t going to be able to handle the force of biting into and then chewing candied apple, for example! By being aware of these kinds of limitations and respecting what your new teeth can and cannot do, you can avoid costly repairs and problems down the road.