Snap on overdentures are dentures that attach to implants in the jaw. These can be removed from the mouth on a daily basis.
Two to four dental implants are often sufficient to hold lower snap on overdentures in place, two to three for the lower jaw and 4 usually for the upper denture.
Each implant has an attachment on top that allows for the snapping action. The mechanism is secure enough to hold the denture in position while the patient chews and provides for easy removal for daily cleaning and maintenance.
THREE TYPES OF SNAP ON OVERDENTURES
The most economical type of snap on overdenture is also the first developed. It uses larger implants to affix the denture in place, has a removable denture, and offers the advantage that if the patient wants to upgrade to a different sort of overdenture later, the existing implants can often be repurposed.
ADVANTAGES OF SNAP ON OVERDENTURES
Conventional dentures are the most economical option available for replacing all the upper teeth, all the lower teeth, or both, and patients can confidently expect that, at a minimum, they’ll improve the appearance of their smiles and provide facial support.
Wearers of traditional dentures, however, often experience a significantly diminished ability to chew and tear food. This results from the dentures’ tendency to slip out of position in the mouth and can make eating many foods, most meat, for example, a daunting prospect.
Snap on overdentures alleviate this problem by providing increased stability. The overdenture attachment doesn’t press down hard on the gum line, meaning wearers can bite down harder and manage a greater variety of foods without discomfort or embarrassment.
Where traditional dentures are concerned, lower ones tend to be a greater source of trouble than upper ones. That’s because the tongue can dislodge the lower denture when the wearer is talking or eating. For this reason, some patients manage well with the combination of traditional upper dentures above and snap on overdentures below.
But for some individuals, snap on overdentures eliminate problems associated with the upper jaw as well. Traditional upper dentures stay in place through suction on the palate, which means they must cover the entire palate. In some people, that coverage triggers the gag reflex. Snap on overdentures don’t cover the entire palate, so this difficulty doesn’t arise.
DISADVANTAGES OF SNAP ON OVERDENTURES
Snap on overdentures typically provide greater functionality than traditional dentures but less than implant, bridges, or a person’s natural teeth. To be specific, on average, traditional dentures only provide 20% of full function. Snap on overdentures improve biting strength to 40 to 50%, but they’re unlikely to do any better.
Snap on overdentures also require professional maintenance. In the case of removable dentures, this typically happens annually, sometimes more often. People with non-removable snap on dentures should be seen every six months. Maintenance appointments involve cleaning the denture and implants, assessing the health of the bone and gum tissue around the implants, and performing repairs and adjustments as necessary.
Repair or replacement is most often necessary due to wear and tear on the attachments as the denture prosthesis snaps in and out repeatedly. Eventually snap retention weakens, and the overdenture feels loose. On average, attachments should be replaced ever 12 to 18 months. Many patients find it convenient to attend to this at the same time they go in for other dental services. As one would expect, there is a cost for the replacement.
Additionally, the fit of snap on overdentures changes over time because the gums that support them shrink and change. When that happens, sores can develop. To keep the best possible fit, an overdenture needs periodic adjustments and to be relined with acrylic every three to five years.
A final drawback is that snap on overdentures are more expensive than traditional dentures although it may be possible to reduce the cost somewhat if the patient already has a traditional denture adaptable to fitting onto implants. Patients’ dentists can help them weigh the pros and cons and decide if snap on overdentures are the best choice to meet their treatment objectives.