Snap-in dentures – also known as snap-on overdentures – are dentures that cover single or multiple teeth as well as prepared roots or implants. For some denture wearers, these are the most logical and cost-effective solutions for false teeth. They are different from standard dentures but are removable for cleaning and for storage overnight while sleeping.
What Are Snap-In Dentures?
There are primarily two different types of snap on dentures. They are dependent on the types of abutment being used to support them in the mouth. The different types of overdentures are:
- tooth-supported, and
The name of each helps in explaining the differences between them.
Tooth Supported Overdentures
This particular type of overdenture sits overtop of natural tooth structures. There are several factors that will impact whether or not a tooth-supported overdenture is the appropriate dental solution. It involves the following considerations:
Location of Natural Teeth
In order for the snap in teeth to be properly supported in the mouth, the location of the natural teeth comes into play. Ideally, there should be no less than one natural tooth per quadrant with canine teeth preferred.
General Health of The Support Teeth
The teeth that will be used to support the overdenture should be in good health. In other words, they should not be decaying or suffering from gum disease. The reason for this is to ensure stability and that the overdenture will be able to be worn for a long time.
Endodontic Treatment Feasibility
In order to prevent interference with the natural bite, the crown of the selected support teeth is usually removed. This also requires the removal of tooth pulp. Root canals in these teeth may be destroyed and if that is the case, endodontic treatment is not required. If there are teeth with non-negotiable root canals, they will not provide the stability required to support overdentures.
This is actually the better of the two types of support systems for overdentures. Individuals with enough bone ridge in their jaws can opt for implant supported overdentures. These will receive support from two sources in the mouth – from the implant and from intraoral tissue.
Implant-supported overdentures reduce bone decay and provide greater stability to the overdentures when in place. A conventional complete denture may also be an effective alternative if these conditions are present as treatment time is greatly reduced compared to that of overdentures.
The Different Snap In Denture Attachment Systems
There are four different attachment systems used in the application of overdentures. They include:
There are a few different types of attachment systems that all fall under the category of stud. They include O-ring attachments where a metal O-ring with a silicone ring fits over a metal post-like structure and an ERA (extra-radicular attachment) which is best for parallel implant abutments.
There’s also the ball attachment which utilizes a ball and a socket. This is the simplest of the systems. Another option is the self-aligning locator attachment and is used usually when the abutments are non-parallel to each other.
This happens to be the most popular of the attachment systems used with snap in denture implants. Essentially, a bar connects the overdenture to splintered abutments. In order to hold the overdenture in place, a clip or sleeve is placed over the bar.
With a magnet fitted into the overdenture surface and a magnet keeper in the implant abutment, the appliance is held in place. This type of attachment system permits movement of the overdenture.
This attachment system is more commonly used when natural teeth are supporting the overdenture. It requires a primary and secondary coping which fit together much in the same manner as a double crown.
Advantages of Overdentures
When compared to conventional full or partial false teeth, there are many advantages to snap in false teeth. They include:
Probably the greatest advantage to overdentures is the way in which it prevents too much pressure being forced down on the gum line which permits the wearer the ability to bite harder foods.
Preservation of the periodontal membrane results when roots are retained for overdentures. This maintains proprioceptive impulses that allow for the ability to control occlusal forces in the same way they could be with natural teeth.
Bone resorption ensues when teeth and roots are extracted. Overdentures can reduce this bone resorption or shrinkage of the jawbone when compared to regular dentures.
Disadvantages of Overdentures
Plaque can build up around the overdenture abutments resulting in swelling, painful and red tissue. Periodontal disease can develop leading to tooth loss if oral hygiene is not maintained.
Again, with poor oral hygiene and poor diet, the risk of developing tooth decay around the support teeth increases. The use of a fluoride toothpaste will assist in reducing this risk.
An overdenture can lead to resorption of the alveolar bone. Although this can be prevented with the retention of a root, the bone will still be the target of gradual resorption. When this happens, it can add instability to the overdenture as time passes.
Full and partial denture wearers commonly experience denture stomatitis – an inflammation which causes painful swelling inside the mouth and lips. It also occurs with overdentures. It can develop from poor oral hygiene and poor diet.
Overdentures held in place with attachments have a risk of being damaged. The risk is the same for conventional false teeth because the material they are made from is fragile and can be severely damaged if dropped.
Since every patient is different, and due to the different overdenture options available, steps in the procedure of getting snap in false teeth varies slightly. However, here is a general guide that you may experience.
In order to be a candidate for dentures that snap in place, you must have enough jawbone to support the implants (for implant-supported overdentures). A set of x-rays will be taken during the consultation visit to fully assess the bone structure of your jaw.
On the day of the procedure, some gum tissue will be removed and the support teeth selected will have their crowns removed. These steps are to ensure that once the overdentures are installed, there is no disruption of normal function such as your bite and speaking ability.
Drilling holes into the jawbone will be required in order to add the implants or support attachment devices. The gum is closed around the healing abutment and this may require a stitch or two. The implants or attachments are left to heal for several months.
After the healing has completed, the snap in overdentures are fitted. They would have been made from molds cast from your teeth at your first or second dental visit. There may be follow-up visits to ensure everything is working correctly as you get used to the implants/overdentures.
Other Details Regarding the Procedure
A local anesthetic will be administered throughout the procedure to mitigate pain. The complete procedure for implant-supported overdentures takes between two and four hours. This may require a series of visits prior to and following the procedure to monitor progress.
After The Procedure
Signs to expect following the procedure include swelling, bruising, bleeding and pain. There will be some immediate discomfort as you get used to the changes inside your mouth, but they should subside in a week or so.
Persons Who Should Not Have Overdentures
As great an alternative to conventional full and partial dentures as overdenture can be, there are a number of factors that may rule you out as being considered a good candidate for the procedure. They include:
- Suppressed immune system
- Heavy smoker
- Teeth grinding
- Recent heart attack
- Loss of jawbone
Your dentist will be the best person to advise you on whether any of these factors will affect your ability to be a candidate for snap-in dentures.
Snap In Dentures Price
A number of variables will determine the actual cost of snap-in dentures, however:
- a lower overdenture will start at around the $6,000 USD range, and
- upper snap in dentures cost from $12,000 USD and up.
The difference is attributed to the fact that more implants are required for the upper overdenture as the bone is softer. Full mouth upper and lower overdentures should cost less than $20,000 USD.
Implant supported or fixed denture costs for the same set (upper and lower) can run in the $40,000 USD range or more, when extractions and dentist visits are taken into account.
Snap in dentures are just as the term implies. You just snap them into place and snap them out when not required. If you have enough jawbone and your oral hygiene is good, you may find these to be a better option to conventional full or partial false teeth if you start losing your natural teeth.
If you think you may be a candidate for snap-in dentures, it is best to speak to your dentist to get the specific advice you need to determine whether or not they will be the best false teeth option for you.