Over the past few years, dental awareness has increased significantly and access to dental care is now more accessible than ever – yet over 1 in 3 adults above age sixty are suffer with edentulism (state of toothlessness or having no teeth)!
Yes, this is in Singapore! A recent local epidemiological study (Chiu C, et al. Gerodontology. 2017) revealed that 30-48% of people above 60 are completely toothless, which is a high rate amongst other developed countries.
You might not blink twice when we speak about the state of being completely toothless, and think it is the accepted norm to replace natural teeth with denture. However, the experience of edentulism, or having no teeth, can be a difficult and uncomfortable one. Not only do you have to deal with the physical discomfort of dentures that slip and slide when eating and speaking, but the psychological impact of being toothless can be severe.
What are some downsides of dentures?
Dentures are made from different types of material, the most common being plastic, acrylic, nylon, porcelain and cobalt-chrome. Depending on the condition, it can be partial (for single or multiple missing teeth) or complete (a replacement for an entire jaw). These types of dentures rest on the gum and are designed to be removable, and therefore may cause some of these downsides.
Downside #1: Harder to chew
Have you ever wondered why so many denture-wearers struggle with food? It’s because their prosthetics lack the biting power of real teeth by more than 50%! When combined with other factors like age and lack of muscle tone, it starts becoming a major issue for many patients. With their lower jaw support impaired, people have reported turning to processed food which are often high in carbs and fats but softer to chew, rather than a healthy balance diet rich with fruits, veggies or meats due to the difficulty in chewing and swallowing them. This means their loose and weaker denture cause the individual to lead a life with poor nutrition, which further increases the risk of other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Downside #2: May cause speech impediment
In addition to these physical problems, traditional dentures can also cause speech impediments. Speech is an important part of human communication and with the denture slipping, it can be difficult for the person to enunciate clearly and accurately. This can have a negative effect on self-confidence and make people feel insecure in social situations.
Our dental community has started taking this problem seriously, focusing on helping those who have difficulty adapting to lower dentures specifically.
The loose denture solution – implant overdenture
This is where implant overdenture come in to save the day!
Fortunately, implant overdenture are now available that can overcome this problem and help edentulous individuals to enjoy a more comfortable, secure and confident life. It is not just us saying it! The current international and local consensus is to select implant overdenture as the gold standard treatment for lower jaw.
How is implant overdenture different from other dentures?
When one has some teeth left, traditional denture may be suitable as we can still utilise existing teeth to hold on to the denture and provide some retention/grip. However, for those who are completely toothless/ missing most their teeth, what then can we use for retention?
This is where implants come in – If one’s bone is adequate and systemic condition is suitable, we can consider inserting 2 to 4 implants into the lower jaw to act as gripping points for the denture so it doesn’t move around during daily functions.
Therefore, an implant overdenture is an advanced form of denture that is secured in place with dental implants for superior stability and comfort compared to traditional dentures.
Solving the common problems of dentures with implant overdenture
How does implant overdenture fix issues of loose lower jaw denture?
Implant overdenture can provide better retention as it has a greater grip on implants compared to traditional denture’s grip on just the gums when there is no teeth left. This ensures that the implant overdenture does not slip or move around when speaking or eating, giving edentulous individuals a better quality of life.
Does implant overdenture improve biting and chewing with denture?
Yes! Implant overdenture also provides greater biting power compared to traditional dentures – without the implant overdenture, it can be difficult for patients to bite through tougher food like apples and carrots. With implant overdenture’s superior gripping points, it makes it easier for those with implant overdentures to bite through tough food, and enjoy a healthy balanced diet.
Our very own resident dentist, Dr Khoo, conducted an implant overdenture clinical trial in HKU in 2013. In a sample size of 90 elderly patients (>60), she noticed a trend where blood sugar level is more stable after insertion of implant overdenture and it is probably due to better food choices (The International journal of oral & maxillofacial implants, 2013).
How does implant overdenture protect further damage from denture wear & tear?
Implant overdenture helps to prevent further bone loss due to the lack of teeth as implant overdenture act as an artificial root system that helps stimulate the jawbone and preserve its height and width, giving edentulous people a more natural facial shape.
Why is implant overdenture the easiest denture to clean?
Unlike traditional dentures, implant overdentures don’t require messy adhesives that may affect their stability, allowing for easier cleaning on a regular basis. Implant overdentures are also easily removable and can be cleaned even with reduced dexterity in elderly patients.
The future of dentures – implant overdentures
In conclusion, implant overdentures are the gold standard for overcoming edentulism (loss of teeth). Here are some factors which makes implant overdenture an ideal solution for toothlessness:
- It provides superior stability and comfort compared to traditional dentures, but also helps restore a patient’s smile, improve facial structure and prevent further bone loss due to the lack of teeth.
- With implant overdenture’s superior gripping points, it makes it easier for those with implant overdentures to bite through tough food, enjoy a healthy balanced diet and protect further damage from denture wear & tear.
- Moreover, implant overdenture is easy-to-clean as it doesn’t require messy adhesives that may affect their stability
What are the steps in an implant overdenture journey?
Our team of professionals will help guide you through the entire implant overdenture journey, from start to finish.
- We’ll begin by taking a 3D X-ray and photos of your jaw in order to plan out the procedure. On surgery day, don’t worry – it’s just one or two hours while relaxing under local anaesthesia, even with TV or music as background entertainment!
- Our staff will then modify your existing denture for comfort and fitment or even provide you with a transitional denture if desired. A week later we look forward to seeing you again for an aftercare review appointment!
- In three months, we’ll begin the process of creating a custom overdenture for you – no anaesthesia or discomfort necessary! Having old photos handy could help us recreate your previous facial profile so you can look and feel like yourself again.
- Be sure to drop in occasionally post-implantation; review visits may occur every six months (or even sooner depending on the case). We also offer spare dentures if that’s something you’d consider.
How much does an implant overdenture cost?
Generally speaking, the cost of implant overdenture in Singapore can range from $2,000 to $25,000, depending on the individual’s conditions and the complexity of the implant placement.
The cost is also dependent on the number of implant points and arches. If a significant amount of bone reconstruction is needed, the implant overdenture may further increase in cost.
It is important when considering implant overdentures to ensure you have an experienced dental team that specialises in implant placement to minimise any unexpected costs due to complications.
Here at WeSmile Dental, implant overdenture prices start at $2,500. Find out more about our pricing here.
How do I know what type of denture suits me?
While it is an ideal solution, implant overdenture is only one of the treatments for edentulism (loss of teeth). It is not one size fit all as everyone’s dental journey is different. If you or a loved one is struggling with loss of teeth, book a consultation so that we can give you personalised advice!