Full Arch Replacement
Dentures are a common and useful way to replace missing teeth, whether it’s a partial denture replacing just a few missing teeth or a full-arch replacement, where a denture replaces all of the teeth in the upper or lower part of the mouth.
Dentures improve speech, allow people to eat certain foods again, and can even help people regain confidence in their smile. However, for those who struggle with dentures that are loose-fitting or uncomfortable, implant-supported dentures offer an excellent solution.
There are pros and cons to implant-supported dentures, and your dentist will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you. But many patients who have opted for this treatment tell Dr. Silvers they wish they’d done it sooner. Often, people simply adapt to the quirks that come with conventional dentures and don’t realize how much better life can be with implants to support them. Implant-supported dentures can make it easier to chew and taste food, keep dentures clean, and avoid some of the painful or irritating issues caused by loose or ill-fitting dentures.
What is full-arch replacement?
Full-arch replacement is different from replacing a single tooth or even several missing teeth in one dental arch (the upper or lower part of the mouth). Instead, this treatment is used when all of the teeth in a dental arch are missing or need to be replaced. In some cases, if a person has one or two functional teeth left in an arch, it might make sense to have those remaining teeth removed so they can get a full-arch replacement.
What are implant-supported dentures?
Implant-supported dentures are an alternative to conventional dentures that replace a full arch. While upper dentures can normally be quite comfortable, even well-fitting lower dentures can be uncomfortable to wear and difficult to eat with because they are easily moved by pressure from the tongue or cheeks. With dental implants, artificial roots are embedded in your jaw bone, and these can be used to anchor your dentures in place. These implants can make dentures more stable and secure.
When do implant-supported dentures make sense?
This is a good option for people who’ve had too much bone loss for a conventional denture to be stable and supported. It is also beneficial for patients who have trouble with existing dentures. For example, if your dentures fall out when you yawn or sneeze, if food gets stuck in your dentures when you eat, or if you get sore spots on the gums where a denture is rubbing. It can also be a factor in how you taste your food. With conventional dentures, the whole palate is covered with acrylic, and that can impair your sense of smell and taste. This can be solved by attaching the denture directly to new implants. That acrylic palate can also affect people’s speech, so if you don’t like the way you sound with a conventional denture, implants might be a good option. In addition, certain musicians, such as those who play brass or woodwind instruments, find that dental implants enable them to play their music without interference.
When is full-arch replacement not a good option?
Dentures aren’t a replacement for teeth, they are a replacement for no teeth. The main reason a patient would not want to get a full-arch replacement is if they still have several healthy teeth in one arch and want to keep them. In addition, factors such as uncontrolled diabetes, tobacco smoking, or the use of certain medications, can make implants less successful.
Are implant-supported dentures removable?
Implant-supported dentures can be removable or fixed. This usually depends on a patient’s personal preference and condition, as well as overall cost. Some factors Dr. Silvers and her patients would consider are how much bone loss a person has, and how much of the teeth and gums they show when they smile.
What is the process of getting a full-arch replacement like?
Getting a full-arch replacement is a multi-step process that can take several months to a year from start to finish, giving your mouth, bone, and gums plenty of time to heal between procedures. Throughout the process, Dr. Silvers will coordinate your care with any and all specialists who need to be involved, which can include an oral surgeon, periodontist, or orthodontist. The first step is to have a consultation with Dr. Silvers so she understands your goals and can begin designing your treatment plan. This is followed by a consultation with the oral surgeon who will eventually place the implants. Typically, the process starts off with removal of any remaining teeth in the affected arch, and the delivery of an immediate denture. If you’ve opted for an implant-supported denture, once the bone and gums have healed an oral surgeon places the implants, and you’ll continue to wear the denture until the new implants have fully integrated into the bone. At that point, either a new denture is made or the existing denture is retrofitted to work with the implants, and you’ll begin enjoying your more secure, comfortably fitted denture.
What is recovery like after full-arch replacement?
Recovery for a full-arch replacement will depend on your situation and what your treatment plan involves. If you are having teeth removed, for example, you can expect some degree of post-operative discomfort, but the procedure is typically done with local anesthetic and is not usually considered painful. Afterward, patients may want to take a few days off work, followed by about two weeks of taking it easy if your mouth still feels sore, but you can expect to see steady improvement every day. An immediate denture can take a bit of getting used to, and it will start to loosen as the bones and gums heal and change shape. When that happens, the denture may be relined to help it fit better again. Placement of implants may be done under some level of sedation, and the recovery period is swifter than when the teeth are initially extracted. Once the final denture is made or retrofitted, the adjustment time is minimal.
How do you clean and maintain implant-supported dentures?
In order to maintain good oral health, it’s still important to brush and floss like normal. For implant-supported dentures that are removable, the cleaning process is the same as for a conventional denture. In addition, the pieces that connect the denture to the implant may occasionally need to be switched out to maintain a tight connection. For fixed dentures, patients should come in three times a year to have the denture removed, cleaned, and put back in. And once every 9–12 months, screw attachments may need to be replaced. Your home care routine will depend on what type of denture you have, and Dr. Silvers will help design a plan for your individual needs.
Do dentures look natural?
Not everyone wants the same smile. Dr. Silvers and her team work closely with patients to make sure every denture looks completely natural, and they develop each plan to suit a patient’s unique features. This will include looking at whether someone has narrow or broad features, determining what size and shape of teeth look most natural for them, and selecting color for the teeth and gums that are complementary to the patient’s skin tone. For patients who want it, she will even build in a characteristic “imperfection,” such as making one tooth a little more rotated or slightly out of place—just enough to make it look natural. Patients are involved at every step in the design process to be sure they’re happy with the final results.
Is full-arch replacement covered by insurance?
Every dental plan is different, and some plans do cover part of the procedure. Dr. Silvers offers a payment plan, or CareCredit, option. She will also work with patients to phase out the treatment over a longer period of time in order to spread out the costs.
Are implant-supported dentures permanent?
Implants have a very high success rate. Once they’ve properly integrated into the bone, the chances of them ever needing to be removed are very slim. However, dentures are subject to normal wear and tear, so if a denture is chipped or gets worn down by grinding, it may need to be replaced or repaired at some point.