Though dentures have improved a lot over the years, the biggest advancement in replacing teeth has been the use of dental implants. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots permanently inserted into your jaw. These fake roots can hold either a single replacement tooth or an entire row of them, and the result looks and feels very similar to real teeth.
With proper cleaning and checkups by a dentist, your dental implants could last a lifetime. (And that's a good thing, since they usually cost more than dentures.) But not all implants are created equal -- different types need to be cared for in different ways, so it's important to know what you're dealing with.
Fixed implant dentures, for example, are anchored by titanium posts inserted into the jaw. The denture is then screwed into the implant. This gives the denture wearer more chomping power than would be possible with non-implanted dentures. However, these dentures can only be removed by the dentist, not the wearer.
On the other hand, miniature titanium implants consist of four small rods implanted in the jaw about 5 millimeters apart. At the top of each rod is a small metal housing. The denture snaps onto these four housings. The patient can remove and clean this type of denture with no assistance from a dentist.
With an overdenture, the natural root of the tooth is preserved to prevent or delay surrounding bone loss that occurs when the entire tooth is removed. The dental professional then bonds metal attachments to the root of the tooth and snaps an overdenture into them. The remaining roots actually provide increased sensation to the wearer of the overdenture, so that the dentures feel more similar to natural teeth.
Your dentist will help you decide which type of dentures are right for you. In the meantime, check out the next page for lots more information on dentures.