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What is an Overdenture?

By Rachel Burkot
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An overdenture is a type of denture designed to go over the teeth or dental implants. It is attached by specialized dental attachments that are secured in the roots or implants. Overdentures are often worn by edentulous patients, patients who have lost all of their teeth. A complete set of dentures can be uncomfortable and feel unnatural, while overdentures are often a good option if the patient still has teeth roots.

An overdenture uses instruments that fasten it to the jawbone. This procedure mimics the way that natural teeth are held in place. One type of overdenture requires the use of bar joints to support the dentures and the surrounding teeth, which often have to be adjusted to make room for the overdentures. Bars on the upper arch of the jaw need more implants than those on the lower arch because there is less bone density in the upper jaw.

Bar joint overdentures are fixed full dentures that become a permanent part of the patient’s mouth. They are screwed into overdenture implants and surgically inserted into the bone, where the denture becomes anchored. Since they are fixed firmly to the teeth, these implant overdentures make chewing and tearing of almost any type of food as easy as with regular teeth.

If an oral disease is responsible for the loss of teeth, a different type of dental overdenture should be used. Known as a telescopic denture, inner and outer metal crowns are fitted over the remaining teeth of the patient. This procedure is reliable, and the dentures are natural-looking and removable; however, a telescopic denture requires a root canal for each tooth that is fitted with a crown. Due to the extensive bone loss, the cuspids—the longest teeth in the mouth—stick out of the jaw bone in patients who have lost some of their other teeth. A root canal is the only effective way to cut down each cuspid to the gum level, where the amount of visible tooth inside and outside the bone is made more even.

The most important health benefit of an overdenture is the prevention of bone loss, as the implant overdenture strengthens the bone structure. Of course, dentures look nicer than a mouth of gums and no teeth. The patient also experiences a much easier time talking and eating with overdentures. If inserted properly, an overdenture should align the jaws accurately and restore 90 percent of chewing power to the patient. Better oral hygiene and decreased risk of gum disease are two additional advantages of using overdentures.

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Discussion Comments
By betterment — On Aug 13, 2012

@JessicaLynn - Dentistry has advanced a lot over the last few years. However, some people still don't take care of their teeth. I think some people are always going to need to get dentures, whether it's the regular kind or implant supported overdentures.

By JessicaLynn — On Aug 12, 2012

The whole idea of needing dentures when I get older kind of scares me. However, I'm glad to know you can get a dental implant overdenture instead of the kind that my grandparents have.

That being said, I'm hoping that dentistry advances enough in the next few years so that less older people even need to have dentures. It seems like we should be able to save most people's actual teeth by now!

By SZapper — On Aug 11, 2012

@Azuza - I personally hate having dental work done. I know a lot of other people who feel the same way. I imagine there might be patients who don't want to mess around with implant dentistry for overdentures, and would rather just get a set of regular dentures.

By Azuza — On Aug 11, 2012

Overdenture attachment sounds a lot better than getting a set of removable dentures. At least this way, it's almost like having your own teeth, and you don't have to take them out to clean them or to sleep.

However, I'm sure there are good reasons why people choose to get regular dentures versus overdentures. But I hope if I ever get to the point where I need dentures, I'll have a good dentist to help me make the choice!

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