When dental implants were first introduced, treatment was entirely focused on complete denture wearers and on making their dentures more wearable. This is still a mainstay of implant treatment, and there are some advantages to removable dental appliances.
First, dentures replace not only missing teeth, but also missing bone as well as gum tissue. For this reason, removable appliances are often necessary to provide an esthetically pleasing appearance.
Secondly, removable appliances are easier to clean and maintain. This is a decided advantage for many patients who have difficulty brushing and flossing teeth.
Removable appliances are also more adaptable. If you were to lose additional teeth, changes in appliance design can be made.
Finally, removable appliances are generally more affordable.
How can implants be used with removable appliances?
Because a complete denture rests on gum tissue, as few as two implants can be used to stabilize and hold the denture in place. In the life of a denture wearer, the improvement that this makes in comfort and confidence is remarkable. Eating, speaking and smiling are all made simpler. Your denture feels more a part of you and more like your real teeth. This is called an "implant retained denture."
Additional implants can also be added to the treatment. With these, we can now begin to provide a measure of support for biting. This is called an "implant supported denture."
In some instances, a conventional removable partial denture can be made more wearable for the patient by using an implant to provide additional support in a strategic location. Once again, the percentage improvement in comfort and confidence for the removable partial denture patient is dramatic.
This final example is called a "fixed-detachable" or "hybrid" appliance. You will note that it looks in some ways like a denture, and in some ways like a bridge. This appliance is not removable by the patient. As you can see, it requires several implants and, as you might imagine, is quite complicated and more expensive.
Reflect for a moment on precisely what you want from implant treatment, what you need from implant treatment, and what you can expect from implant treatment. Finally, will your financial resources allow for implant treatment? Discuss all of the options that might fit your particular situation. There is usually more than one acceptable answer to your problem.