Dental patients who have significant bone loss in the lower jaw, and use traditional lower dentures, frequently deal with a number of issues, including keeping them in place, trouble speaking and eating, pain from pressure points and friction, and sores due to rubbing. Dental implants placed in the lower jaw have been used with fixed bridges, hybrid denture prostheses, and removable overdentures to restore the jaws of those missing some or all of their teeth.
Oral restoration through the use of dentures supported by two to four implants have proven to be about 96% successful. A number of studies have shown increased satisfaction in those with implant supported dentures. Meijer et al. found that patients who had implant supported dentures were significantly more satisfied with their dentures than those with complete denture treatments.
The problem is, when patients without teeth tend to lose bone in the jaw over time. Implants require a certain amount of bone in order to be successfully placed. Insufficient bone in the jaw limits the number and length of the implants that can be placed. Placement of standard implants may require surgery to transplant bone into the jaw in order to support the implant. Elderly patients, who may have health issues or may be on anticoagulant medications, are at increased risk of surgical complications.
Smaller diameter implants that can be used to support existing dentures can now be placed without surgery. Smaller diameter implants require significantly less bone than standard implants. The procedure to place the smaller implants causes very little bleeding and much less pain. They are also less costly.
The clinical data used in this study came from an Implant Dentistry Database maintained by the New York University College of Dentistry Kriser Dental Center’s Department of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry. The data was provided without identifying information in accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements. The database is certified by the Office of Quality Assurance at the University.
Satisfaction questionnaires completed by patients two months after having small diameter implant, showed that patients wore their dentures for more of the day than those with traditional dentures. The questionnaires also indicate greater patient satisfaction, with improved retention, more comfort, and lower use of denture adhesive. Patients also reported greater satisfaction with the contact between upper and lower teeth. It was also reported that the speech of those with implant supported dentures was easier to understand than those with traditional dentures. Overall, patients reported greater comfort and confidence with implants than traditional dentures.