Implant Retained Dentures versus Implant Supported Dentures

The multiple options surrounding tooth replacement options these days can be mind-boggling. Conventional dentures or implant retained dentures? Implant retained or implant supported? Luckily, the availability of good options has only increased over the course of the past few decades, and the availability of more options means better options for everyone. It’s just a matter of understanding the differences. If you have been weighing the pros and cons of implant retained versus implant supported dentures, the following information should help you make a better-informed choice about the system that might work best for you.

Implant Retained Dentures

Implant retained dentures, otherwise known as “clip-on” dentures, are dentures that are held in place with the assistance of implant fixtures. The fact that these streamlined dentures are commonly held in place by just four implants have also led them to be called “all-on-four” dentures. The reality of the four-implant system is somewhat more complicated, as more implants are generally preferred for supporting an upper arch of implant retained dentures, but generally speaking, two to four implants are all that are needed to retain a lower arch and four to six are recommended to hold an upper arch in place.

Implant Supported Dentures

Implant supported dentures rely on a larger number of implants and are generally designed to be fixed or permanent. Unlike implant retained dentures, these do not snap in and out of place but rather are cemented or otherwise adhered to the implant fixtures. For this reason, implant supported dentures necessitate more surgical intervention in that they require more implants to be installed throughout the mouth. This increases the cost of this tooth replacement system, but also creates a final product that is the closest to natural teeth. It also necessitates a greater degree of bone health and availability to place the larger number of implants. If you do not have the baseline bone health that is necessary, your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend either undergoing bone grafting to improve available bone mass or simply opting for implant retained dentures, which can utilize less bone mass to function.

Functional Differences Between Implant Retained and Implant Supported Dentures

Implant retained dentures are designed to snap in and out of place, which means that they are generally removed at night for cleaning. This removability can be a benefit in that allows their wearer the peace of mind of knowing that they are being thoroughly cleaned. It also allows for any necessary repairs or replacements to be done to the appliance itself in a dental lab, rather than requiring its wearer to sit in a dentist’s chair for hours having their dentures repaired.

On the other hand, some prefer the more natural feeling of having teeth that do not have to be removed for cleaning at night. Furthermore, for those who suffer from sleep apnea or even TMJ, the structure that implant supported dentures provide at night can help provide a better night’s sleep, reducing snoring and putting less pressure on the jaw.

In terms of biting and chewing food, implant supported dentures do offer enhanced biting force and a reduction in issues related to eating in general. The removability of implant retained dentures imposes certain limitations on the ways those prosthetic teeth can function during eating, which can feel limiting for some - but certainly not all - users.

For more information on whether implant retained or implant supported dentures might work best for you, please call your dentist’s office for a one-on-one consultation.

Implant Retained vs Traditional Dentures