Most people understand what a complete denture is. Sometimes referred to as a set of "false teeth", "falsies" or even as "a plate", a complete denture is a removable prosthesis which sits on the gums and replaces all of the teeth in an arch. One of the drawbacks of complete dentures is that they can come loose and "drop" when people are speaking or eating.
An Overdenture is still a removable prosthesis, but instead of sitting on the gums, it also sits over two or more dental implants. The implants usually have a ball-shaped abutment on them (these look a little bit like minature tow-balls, like one might see on the back of a car) and the denture has a nylon connector within it, which one might analogise as being like the trailer hitch for the towball. An Overdenture thus is a denture which is connected to two or more implants so that it will not come loose.
Overdentures are usually made for the lower arch teeth, but can also be made for the upper arch. They are a very good option for someone who does not have any teeth, and is having trouble managing their complete dentures for retention and stability whilst eating and speaking.
This patient had been without his lower teeth for many years. The gums had receded significantly, and so the lower complete denture had little gum to sit on and was often loose. He sought dental implants to improve the retention and stability of his denture.
Two dental implants were placed and then ball attachments were made and fitted to the implants. This photo shows the gold ball-attachments (looking like mini tow balls) attached to the implants.
This photo shows the underside of the denture and the nylon attachments (like little trailer hitches) are visible. These nylons create the retention for the denture. They last between 6 and 18 months on average before wearing out. They are simple and inexpensive to replace.
This last photo shows the overdenture securely in place. The patient was happy with the improved retention that he gained with these implants and attachments. He became much more confident in social settings knowing that 'his teeth would not come loose' !