Snap on dentures are a teeth replacement option that offers greater functional, masticatory, and aesthetic benefits than conventional dentures.
Snap on dentures provide a stable, secure, long-lasting, and cost-effective solution for patients with missing teeth, especially conventional denture wearers who are struggling with ill-fitting or loose dentures. due to changes to the soft tissue (gums) and hard tissue (jawbone) over time. Snap on dentures are removable dentures that are typically fitted over implants to improve their stability and security. They serve to replace lost hard and soft tissues in a manner that meets functional, aesthetic, and phonetic requirements. Patients treated with snap on dentures retain a more natural masticatory function and benefit from more convenient oral hygiene access.
What Are Snap On Dentures?
Snap on dentures are essentially an advanced teeth replacement option that offers significantly more security and stability than conventional dentures, in addition to several other advantages. These removable prosthetic appliances are fitted over either a few remaining natural teeth ( after they’ve been properly prepared) or, more commonly, over implants inserted into the jawbone. The latter involves a surgical procedure performed by a dental specialist, typically a periodontist or an oral surgeon.
Snap on dentures are also known as:
- Snap in dentures
- Clip on/ clip in dentures
- Implant overdentures
- Implant-supported dentures
- Implant-retained dentures
- Hybrid dentures
Both conventional/traditional and snap on dentures serve to replace missing teeth and restore the patient’s smile. Conventional dentures are fitted after the patient’s remaining teeth have been removed and the gums have completely healed, and they are held in place by the soft tissue (gums). On the other hand, snap on dentures are held in place by dental implants, which replace lost natural teeth and also some of the tooth roots. This implicitly means that snap on dentures offer greater security and stability than conventional dentures.
The Advantages of Snap On Dentures Over Conventional Dentures
Implant overdentures offer multiple advantages over traditional dentures, which is why more and more patients choose to benefit from snap on denture treatment. Conventional denture wearers who have experienced difficulty in speaking and eating ( biting/chewing) due to an improper fit caused by changes to the bone and gums may consider snap on dentures a more effective, secure, and stable alternative to conventional dentures.
- Snap on dentures are a lot more stable and comfortable than conventional ones
These advantages are derived from the fact that dental implants hold overdentures in place, rather than soft tissue. The implants are inserted into the jawbone and serve to anchor the overdenture, thus preventing it from shifting around while speaking and eating. Thanks to the implants, the overdentures snap securely and properly into place. This ensures their stability and security, and implicitly, the comfort of the wearer at all times.
- Snap on dentures provide better retention of the biting and chewing abilities
Patients who receive implant overdentures benefit from improved masticatory function, which is a key function in the digestion process. During mastication, food is broken down to facilitate the activity of enzymes. Its role is not limited to the intake of food; mastication is of the utmost importance for one’s overall health, which is why preserving lifelong healthy masticatory function is one of the most important goals of dentistry.
- Snap on dentures help support a healthy jawbone
Owing to the fact that implant-retained overdentures usually replace some of the tooth roots, jawbone mass is much better retained. Traditional denture wearers tend to experience weakening and even loss of hard tissue over time. That’s because the bone that used to surround the tooth roots gradually resorbs. By integrating with the jawbone, the implants effectively keep the jawbone healthy.
- Snap on dentures are more natural-looking and aesthetically-appealing in the long term
Patients who wear conventional dentures experience sagging facial muscles due to gradual recession of the jawbone, and this results in an unattractive smile over time. Snap on dentures function and look more like natural teeth than conventional dentures in the long term, because they are held in place by implants, so they are less likely to shift around and slip. Additionally, they help disguise lost soft tissue more aesthetically.
- Snap on dentures are long-lasting and more cost-effective in the long term than conventional dentures
First of all, it’s worth noting that dental implants are specifically designed to last a lifetime. Secondly, the snap on dentures themselves are very durable; the vast majority of patients never replace the original overdentures with a new set. However, it’s recommended to replace the rubber-like O-rings ( they sit inside the connectors) every few years; O-rings are inexpensive. The durability of overdentures makes them cost-effective in the long run.
- Snap on dentures provide the patient with easier access to oral hygiene and improved quality of life
Thanks to the removable nature of these prosthetic appliances, oral hygiene access is a lot easier and more convenient. Snap on dentures easily snap on and off and the patient is free to remove them as often as needed. The enhanced stability allows the patient to indulge in their favorite foods. With all of the aforementioned benefits, snap on dentures ultimately enable the wearer to enjoy better life quality and an overall sense of well-being.
The Snap On Denture Treatment Procedure
Snap on denture treatment consists of two steps:
- The dental implant procedure ( a surgical procedure)
- The process of designing and fabricating the dentures
- The Dental Implant Procedure
A dental implant serves to replace the root of a lost tooth. This fixture resembling a small metal cylinder or screw is inserted into the jawbone and fuses with the bone over a period of 2 to 6 months (a process medically known as osseointegration). During this period of time, immediate dentures ( a temporary teeth replacement option) can be worn over the dental implant sites. Dental implants are typically made of titanium, which facilitates fusion with the bone because the human body does not recognize titanium as a foreign object.
Thanks to their stability, dental implants can be used to support dentures, while providing a significantly more comfortable and secure fit. In terms of the number of implants you can receive, you have three options:
- 2 dental implants per arch
- 4 dental implants per arch
- 4 implants plus a denture bar per arch
The second option is known as the All-On-4 technique and involves strategically inserting the 4 implants ( per arch) in areas with strong(er) bone.
Your dentist will help you choose the implant option that best works for you. Some of the factors that influence it include:
- Jaw structure
- Bite force
- Jawbone quality
The surgical procedure per se is typically completed in just one session, is non-invasive, and involves minimal discomfort and pain, if any. Post-surgery pain is virtually non-existent and that’s because the bone has no nerves. The patient is given a local anesthetic to numb the specific surgical site. Additionally, patients who undergo a dental implant procedure may be given sedatives to relieve anxiety.
There are 2 types of dental implants that are used for snap on dentures:
- Regular implants
Mini-implants have become increasingly popular for snap on denture treatment primarily because they are more affordable than regular implants. These tiny implants serve as anchorage devices just like regular implants, but they are easier to insert and heal a lot faster than regular ones. On the downside, patients who would like to benefit from fixed, permanent teeth in the future will not be able to convert mini-implants into permanent teeth.
Regular implants are obviously more expensive than mini-implants, but patients are able to convert them into permanent teeth in the future.
2.The Denture Design and Fabrication Process
The process of designing and creating overdentures is largely similar to that of fabricating conventional ones. Snap on dentures can be used in 2 ways:
#1 The dentures snap onto a metal plate that is attached to the dental implants and runs over the top of the soft tissue
#2 The dentures snap onto connectors, which are in fact magnetic abutments that are attached to the dental implants
These connecting devices or attachments are added either by the lab technician based on impressions of the existing dentures or by the dental specialist directly inside the patient’s mouth. The first option, that uses a metal plate or bar superstructure is typically recommended when the patient has sufficient inter-arch space. When this space is quite limited, the other option works better.
The dental specialist will work with the patient to determine the best snap on denture treatment plan for them.
Who Is A Good Candidate for Snap On Dentures?
The vast majority of conventional denture wearers are good candidates for implant overdentures. However, a patient must first be approved to undergo the dental implant surgical procedure. To be approved, a candidate for snap on dentures must be in good overall health, in good oral health, and have a good amount of jawbone to properly support the dental implant. If the patient doesn’t have a sufficient amount of jawbone, undergoing a bone graft may be required.
It’s worth noting that both the quality and quantity of jawbone significantly impact the durability of the dental implants received by the patient, and that’s because the implants are placed directly into the jawbone. In other words, implants inserted into enough jawbone and a strong jawbone are a lot more durable. The lower jaw is typically much better than the upper jaw, so implants placed in the lower jawbone last longer.
When the implant needs to be inserted in the posterior or back region of the upper jaw, a procedure called sinus lift or sinus augmentation may be required. This procedure helps graft more bone into the air-filled maxillary sinus, thus making more jawbone available to properly support the dental implant. The dental specialist will evaluate the quality and quantity of jawbone both visually and with the use of X-rays, CT scan, and panoramic films to determine if a bone graft may be necessary.
Do Conventional Denture Wearers Need a New Set of Denture?
In general, patients who choose to benefit from snap on denture treatment receive new dentures. In some cases, conventional denture wearers who have more recently received their dentures, but are not happy with the fit may be eligible for snap on denture conversion. This refers to the process of converting their existing denture into a snap on denture.
The dentist will first evaluate the existing dentures to determine whether overdenture conversion is a viable option for the patient. If it is, the dentist will proceed by retrofitting existing dentures to fit the dental implants. To retrofit existing dentures, the dentist creates holes in them, inserts acrylic and connectors, and then adds O-rings to complete snap on denture conversion.
How Much Do Snap On Dentures Cost?
The cost of snap on denture treatment includes the cost of dental implants and the cost of the denture. The cost of dental implants obviously depends on the number of implants you need (per arch). Dental insurance typically doesn’t cover dental implant surgery because this is regarded as an elective surgical procedure.
The dental specialist’s expertise and experience, as well as the location/region of their practice also influence the cost of snap on dentures. On average, you can expect the following costs:
- Snap on denture treatment that involves 2 dental implants and the overdenture typically costs between $3,000 and $5,000 per arch
- Snap on denture treatment that involves 4 dental implants and the overdenture typically costs between $5,000 and $8,000 per arch
- Snap on denture treatment that involves 4 to 5 implants, the overdenture and a denture bar typically costs around $10,000 per arch
It’s worth noting that the cost of treatment with 4 to 5 implants and a denture bar is approaching the cost of fixed, permanent teeth. As discussed, snap on dentures are not permanent teeth, so if the latter is a viable and affordable option for you, it’s in your best interest to also take into consideration permanent teeth.
The Bottom Line
Snap on dentures, also called implant-supported dentures and overdentures are a significantly more stable, secure, and efficient alternative to conventional dentures; this alternative is also cost-effective in the long run and most conventional dental warrs ar good candidates for overdentures.