Going to the dentist isn't any fun, but it is one of those things that just has to be done. For years, I fought the process and didn't go for my regular cleanings and in the end, it sure didn't pay to do so. I ended up spending ten times as much time in the chair and a boat-load of money in dental repairs. If you don't like going to the dentist, you can make it easier on yourself. This blog will show you a few tips that can help you improve the experience and get through the treatment without as much discomfort.
If you don't have any of your natural teeth, you're not alone. In the United States, more than 35 million people are missing all of their teeth. Fortunately, many options are available for replacing these missing teeth, including bar-retained dentures. Here are four things you need to know about bar-retained dentures.
What are bar-retained dentures?
Bar-retained dentures are a type of implant-supported denture. These dentures clip onto a metal bar that runs along the length of your jaw. The bar is secured in place by a series of dental implants. While the implants that support the dentures are permanently fixed to your jaw bone, the dentures themselves are removable.
How do they differ from regular dentures?
Regular dentures sit on top of your gum tissue, but they're only held in place by the muscles inside your mouth (and maybe some denture glue). Since regular dentures aren't well-secured, you may feel them slipping out of place when you talk or chew. Bar-retained dentures clip securely onto a metal bar, so they won't move around or fall out of your mouth.
In addition to being more secure inside your mouth, bar-retained dentures also help to protect your jaw bone. When you're missing teeth, the jaw bone that used to support them realizes that it's no longer needed, and it starts to wither away. Within three years of losing your teeth, your jaw bone can lose up to 60% of its former height and width. As your jaw bone shrinks, you may find that your regular dentures keep getting looser and need to be adjusted. The implants that secure your bar-retained dentures stimulate your jaw bone and prevent it from atrophying.
How are bar-retained dentures placed?
Bar-retained dentures are placed by oral surgeons or prosthodontists. Your family dentist can refer you to a specialist for this procedure.
The specialist will embed three to four dental implants in each jaw bone. The gum tissue around each implant will be stitched back in place, and you'll be sent home to heal. It can take several months for your jaw bone tissue to tightly heal around your implants. While you're healing, you can wear removable dentures that have been modified to fit over top of the healing implants, so you don't need to worry about not having any teeth during this period.
Once the implants have healed, the specialist will create a customized bar and screw it onto the implants. An impression will then be taken of your mouth, and your new dentures will be created based on this impression. Once the dentures are ready, the specialist will clip them onto the fixed bar and confirm that the fit is perfect. Afterwards, you should follow up with your dentist every six months to make sure that the dentures still fit well and are in good condition.
Are bar-retained dentures hard to care for?
Caring for bar-retained dentures is very similar to caring for removable dentures. You'll need to unclip your dentures every day to brush them with a soft denture brush and water. It's also important to remember to brush the bar that holds the dentures in place.
At night, remove your bar-retained dentures and soak them in a cup of water. Avoid soaking your dentures in denture-cleaning liquids, as this can tarnish the metal clips that anchor your dentures to your bar. Wearing your bar-retained dentures overnight can lead to gum problems like denture stomatitis, a condition that makes your gums red and swollen.
If you're missing all of your teeth and don't like the way traditional removable dentures feel, ask your dentist if bar-retained dentures are a good option for you.