Patients with full or partial dentures due to missing teeth often have developed a personal adaptation due to the inadequacy of the chewing efficiency compared to natural teeth.

Some people are very good at this and have learned to eat anything with their dentures. Most, however, experience frustrating pain, movement, and the packing of food around and underneath the dentures.

What if you could wave a magic wand and have all your teeth back?

That would be great, but there is no such wand. However, dental implants would be life changing to these individuals.

Dental implants secure the dentures in a way nothing else can, making eating, talking and socializing fun again. There are options for totally fixed implants as well as removable ones.

The fixed option involves placing four to six implants for either or both the upper and lower jaws. The teeth replacements are screwed in, making removal by the patient impossible. This option is the most chewing-efficient between the two. It is also the least bulky, more natural feeling of the two options.

For economic purposes, the removable option is lower in cost and is far better than nothing at all. Usually, a prosthetic called an “overdenture” is made. It consists of a metal skeleton within the acrylic to offset the stress to the denture material, caused by the housings necessary to attach to the implants.

The housing is buried within the denture. The housing is a small, shallow metal cup-like attachment. It is within this housing that various nylon inserts can be placed to moderate the amount of retention desired.

The beauty of this system is that any wear that occurs is to these inserts, which can be changed out easily for new ones.

In both cases, the teeth can be made to look very natural.

So, imagine going from a compensatory situation to one where the teeth work well, feel good and look good. Many patients describe it as “life changing.”

James G. Jenkins, D.M.D. is the owner of Bluffton Dental Care in Bluffton.