Teeth do more than just chew food; they contain blood vessels and nerves and maintain the shape and power of the jawbone. Loss of teeth means that a person’s bite is not as efficient and may lead to dietary changes, such as not being able to chew hard or fibrous foods (eg: buns, meat, apples). It is the job of your dentist to help preserve their patient’s natural teeth as well as good overall oral health. If a tooth or teeth is ever lost, a dentist will talk to the patient about replacement options usually either some form of denture or dental implants. The easiest way to substitute a tooth is with a denture and in many cases people are choosing the option of overdentures. This is because they allow for remaining teeth to play a role in holding the overdentures in place, which preserves the quality of the jawbone.
Many people are aware that dentures are molded to fit the gums or anchored around the remaining teeth as in the case of partial dentures. An overdenture replacement is considerably different. Overdentures can be used in both the upper and lower jaw, but dentists may need to arrange for more support in the upper jaw because of the lower bone density, which is slightly less than the lower. An overdenture is supported by clamps fitted onto the existing abutting teeth after they have been root canaled and a portion of the tooth to below the gum line is removed to accommodate the clamp. Once clipped into place, the overdenture is remarkably stable and works almost as effectively as real teeth. If there are no remaining teeth to serve as supports or abutments, two or more implants will be placed to serve that purpose. This provides the same strength as natural tooth roots and allows the overdenture to function well.
Overdentures are cared for in the same manner as traditional dentures. They should be cleaned, along with the teeth and gums, following each meal, and removed while sleeping to allow the mouth opportunity to cleanse itself through saliva production and time to rest. During the night the overdenture should be soaked in a cleansing solution that will destroy any bacteria.
Because all dentures present the possibility of irritation to the gums and lining of the mouth, it is important to keep them, and the mouth, as clean and healthy as possible. Poor oral hygiene in combination with dentures can cause gum disease and infection as well as other significantly more serious medical problems.