If you’re missing teeth, modern dentistry offers more options than ever before for replacing them. With so many options for new teeth, it can be confusing to know the important differences between your options. Tooth loss is still treated by dentures, but there are now special kinds of dentures called overdentures that integrate the latest dental implant technology. Here’s the difference between traditional dentures and overdentures so you can make an informed choice in your care.
Traditional dentures are artificial teeth mounted in an acrylic base that looks like gums. Dentures are held in place by adhesives, natural suction, or a combination of both. Overdentures look like conventional dentures from the outside, but they are actually secured in your mouth by clipping or screwing onto titanium dental implants that have been placed in your jawbone. Because they clip onto a solid foundation in the form of dental implants, overdentures are more stable.
One of the biggest benefits of overdentures is a better eating experience and better nutrition. Conventional dentures can affect your ability to taste by covering your palate (roof of your mouth), where some of your taste buds are actually located. Overdentures don’t cover the palate. Foods you would have had to avoid (or cut up before eating) with unstable conventional dentures or missing teeth, like meats or crunchy vegetables, can be chewed by overdentures.
Speaking is also easier with secure overdentures. Your speech, in general, will be clearer, especially the letters “s” and “f” which can sometimes be muffled or lisped with conventional dentures that cover your palate.
In terms of your oral health, overdentures have the benefit of preventing bone loss. Overdentures transfer the force of your bite from your false teeth, through the dental implants, and into the bone of your jaw. Receiving this sensation from the implants tells your jaw to keep creating new bone, preventing the bone structure under your overdentures from shrinking away.
This shrinking of bone, called “resorption”, tends to happen in conventional dentures because there is no solid structure between the denture and the bone that tells the bone it’s still being used to bite. Jaw bone resorption is what causes traditional dentures to eventually stop fitting well and require adjustment, and can lead your cheeks to look more sunken and aged as your bone structure shrinks.
One potential advantage of conventional dentures is that they are more affordable initially than overdentures because they do not involve the surgical placement of implants. However, over the long run, the adjustments or replacements associated with conventional dentures may add up. Overdentures are much less likely to have these problems, so the initial investment could eventually save you money in the future.