Sometimes dental disease can get to a point that is unmanageable and the decision is made to remove all remaining teeth in one or both jaws. When all teeth are missing, replacement options include dentures, overdentures and fixed hybrid dentures.

Consequences of tooth loss

People without teeth have a poorer quality of life since teeth play a necessary role in speech, chewing and esthetics. Inadequate nutrition and the inability to pronounce certain sounds can occur. Smiling can become more difficult for people because they feel self-conscious about their missing teeth. Teeth also help support the lips and muscles. When teeth are missing, bone starts to resorb. The lips and cheeks will start to sink in causing wrinkling around the mouth, weakening of the facial muscles and thinning of the lips. Ultimately this creates the appearance of premature aging. Replacing the missing teeth will help you chew and speak better, create lip support, and restore a beautiful confident smile.


What’s the difference between dentures, overdentures and fixed hybrid dentures?

All three options of dentures, overdentures and fixed hybrid dentures will replace all of the teeth in one dental arch. They differ if implants are involved and how many, and how much retention, stability and support each has. Retention is how well it stays in place. Stability is how much it moves around. Support involves what the prosthesis is resting on. Implants are titanium posts that are placed below gum tissue into the bone.

Dentures

A denture has teeth set in a pink acrylic base that fits onto the existing tissue without any implants. The support, retention and stability all come from the soft tissue. The success of the denture depends on how well it adapts to the tissue. An upper denture may do better because the roof of the mouth creates more surface area for the denture to suction to. A lower denture has poor support and retention because there is less tissue to rest on and the tongue will move it all around. It is easy for the seal to be broken and the denture to fall out.

Overdentures

An overdenture is a denture that attaches to implants but is still removable. They can be implant retained or implant supported.

Implant retained overdenture

To combat the tongue moving a denture all around, 2 implants can be placed in the lower jaw. Now the denture is retained in place by these implants, hence the name implant retained overdenture. Two special attachments called Locators keep the denture from popping on and off. The majority of the overdenture is still being supported by soft tissue though. Since the 2 implants retaining the denture are in the anterior of the mouth and the back of the denture is only resting on tissue, stability of the overdenture is limited. It can still move around a little bit.

Implant supported overdenture

Four implants (or more) can be placed in the top or bottom jaws. Now the overdenture is retained by the implants and also completely supported by them. Four special attachments or a bar are used to attach the overdenture. Tissue is no longer needed for support when there are implants in the anterior and the posterior creating excellent stability. This overdenture will not have any problems staying in the mouth or moving around.
This overdenture is still removable. The downside is that it will still feel like a denture to you, but it is easier to clean around the overdenture and the implants.

Fixed hybrid denture

A hybrid denture is a denture permanently fixed to the implants. You cannot take this denture out; only the dentist can do so.
Four or more implants are placed and the denture is fixed in place. The hybrid is not on soft tissue. It is completely supported, retained and stabilized by the implants. The advantage to the hybrid is that it feels less like a denture when it permanently stays in place. The implants and underneath of the hybrid can be harder to clean than the removable options.
You might have heard or seen commercials about teeth in a day or All-on-4, where your teeth are taken out, implants placed, and a denture fixed to those implants all in one appointment. This fixed hybrid denture is part of that process. You can spend less time without teeth or having to deal with a denture with this option. The other implant options will require you to wear a denture first, have the implants placed, spend time healing, and then be able to make the overdenture.

For more information

Dentures: Read more about types of dentures, appointments needed, and how to care for them. Most importantly learn what kind of problems can happen with dentures and what to expect. Dentures can be a difficult transition for many people.

Overdentures and fixed hybrids: Get more information about each type along with strengths and weaknesses. See what implants can do to greatly improve dentures and make the transition less difficult.