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Overdentures: save your remaining teeth to protect your jaw bone

 The most common cause of loss of teeth is bad oral hygiene and gum diseases. When most of the teeth are missing, it might get difficult to chew and speak. This problem is further increased with the loss of the jawbone where the teeth are lost. To improve function and aesthetics the rest of the teeth are removed and a complete denture is placed.

This is the most common consequence of losing teeth. But is it the ONLY option or the BEST option available? Or is it just old and outdated?

Contrary to the popular understanding, loosing most of your teeth DOES NOT require removing the remaining teeth.

Although, dentures are the option to missing multiple teeth, they can be placed on the teeth present by making required changes rather than removing them.

Overdentures are complete dentures that are placed “over” the remaining teeth or implants. 

Why “Over”dentures?

 The tooth is like an iceberg. It has two parts with the smaller part seen outside, known as the “Crown” that helps in chewing and the “Root” that is inside the jaw bone and holds the teeth to the jaws and also help in retaining the height of the jaw bone in which it is embedded. Loss of teeth results in collapse of the jawbone in the area.

Overdentures have the numerous benefits over regular dentures

ü  They help in preserving the jaw bone height thus improving the chewing ability and aesthetics

ü  They look more natural than the regular complete dentures as they provide better support to the surrounding tissue

ü  They are retained better in the mouth. A common problem with complete dentures is that they come off easily and do not stick closely to the jaws. Overdentures having a better support, stick better and provide better force for chewing, making chewing more efficient.

ü  They help in the forces of chewing being transferred to the underlying tooth roots rather than the jaws. This helps the jaw bones to be preserved for a longer time after tooth loss.

How are overdentures different from regular dentures?

The main difference is that overdentures are supported by underlying TEETH or IMPLANTS rather than being directly placed on TISSUE.

If there are some teeth present then the condition of the teeth is evaluated, if they can be used as the supporting teeth.

On selecting the appropriate teeth that can be used for support or areas in the jaws where implants can be placed the tooth is shaped/ implant is placed.

If the teeth have some reversible gum disease or had tooth infection in the past, then they are treated for that and sealed using an appropriate filling material or a metal coping.  The process also involves shaping of the teeth so that the denture can be placed over it.

Once the support is in the place the rest of the process is similar to that of making complete dentures.

Overdentures have some added steps in their fabrication adding to the cost but their benefits could outweigh that of normal tissue supported dentures.

Types of overdentures

Overdentures can be placed above an already present tooth or over an Implant depending on

ü  The presence or absence of teeth

ü  The condition of the teeth present

ü  The general oral hygiene practices of the patient

ü  The height of the jaw bone

Is overdenture a substitute for the regular dentures?

Overdentures could be a s substitute but require a detailed evaluation and treatment planning.

A proper treatment planning is the most important part of deciding on using overdentures. Improper planning can lead to failure of the treatment and finally to fabrication of tissue supported dentures.

Along with proper treatment planning, post-operative care is also extensively important for the long term success of an overdenture. Proper oral hygiene practices are required to prevent caries in the underlying teeth and gum diseases around the teeth beneath the dentures. This requires patient compliance and regular follow ups.

Can an existing denture be replaced by an overdenture?

 Yes, this can be done by using an IMPLANT SUPPORTED OVERDENTURE.

Before placing an implant supported overdenture a detailed evaluation of the status of the underlying jawbone need to be done in order to determine if the implants can be placed in the bone as such or would require other dental procedures.

Whatever type of overdentures are used, they help in preserving the natural dental tissue. This helps in improving general oral health despite the loss of multiple teeth. Overdentures are better tolerated by people who have difficulty in wearing complete dentures.

Overdentures have a huge advantage in cases where

ü  Most of the teeth are missing in one jaw. If there are only a few teeth in the upper jaw whereas the lower jaw has almost all teeth, overdenture might be a better choice.  This is because, overdentures having greater support do not get dislodged by the forces exerted by the natural teeth in the opposing jaw.

ü  With overdentures people do not feel that they have lost all their teeth and thus this treatment might have a psychological advantage over complete denture where the person feels that all their teeth are missing

ü  The teeth have been absent for a long time. If most of the teeth have been missing for a long duration, the jaw bone would for the most part have resorbed. Extracting the remaining teeth and placing a complete denture in such a situation would not be an option as a tissue supported denture requires a sound jawbone. In this case the underlying teeth after evaluation can be prepared and the support which has been lost due to the thin jawbone can be regained by the remaining teeth.  This process would avoid complicated surgical dental procedures like bone augmentation.

It can thus be safely said that overdenture can help a lot and in many cases replace a tissue supported complete denture BUT A DETAILED PROPER EVALUATION IS REQUIRED BEFORE INITIATING THE TREATMENT FOR ITS LONGTERM SUCCESS.

A complete evaluation to understand if you are a good candidate for an overdenture can be done at your convenience without traveling or waiting at the clinics @DentOp.

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