In most cases, where dentures are needed, the teeth to be replaced have been lost or need to be extracted. However sometimes, in the right circumstances, it is beneficial to hold onto several natural teeth under a complete denture. These teeth are filed down to near the gum level and the denture sits over them, hence an ‘over-denture’. Implants can also be placed to support an overdenture.
Overdentures have several advantages, which include the following:
- Your own teeth take some of the biting pressure so less pressure is on the gums. Teeth roots are designed to take biting forces, gum tissue is not!
- If done correctly, your remaining teeth may help keep the denture more stable. This can make quite a difference in some cases.
- Maintaining some of your own teeth will mean the bone will be preserved to a degree. This will help keep the gum line stable and there may be less ‘shrinking in’ of the lips and cheeks.
- Some people find dentures more tolerable if they have some teeth remaining underneath. They get more ‘feedback’ when eating and speaking, so the dentures feel more natural and acceptable.
As it is the lower jaw where problems most arise with dentures, it is here where over-dentures may be most beneficial.
Overdentures are not suitable in the following cases:
- Where there is a poor standard of oral hygiene. The remaining tooth roots need to be kept very clean if they are to last.
- A high level of dental decay, which will quickly destroy the tooth.
- Loose teeth due to gum disease. Any teeth under an overdenture need to be stable.
- Remaining teeth that are not in a helpful position in the mouth. Only those in certain locations are of any help when it comes to supporting an overdenture.
- Teeth that cannot be filed into the correct shape, for example due to severe decay.
Disadvantages of overdentures:
- As explained, they are not suitable in some cases.
- This option usually increase the cost of getting dentures.
- May require a lot of work to the remaining teeth, such as root canal treatment.
- This option can lead to more difficulty in getting an accurate fit of the denture.