You wouldn’t make a denture out of vulcanite, right? While the rubber material represented a major advancement in removable technology in the 19th century, you’d be hard-pressed to find a dentist who still uses it today. Materials and techniques advance, and eventually the standard of care is raised.
It can be challenging to pinpoint the exact moment that a once-popular practice falls out of favor. I’ll defend a dentist’s right to restore a tooth with amalgam, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve used it myself. While dental amalgam is perfectly safe, composite-resin technology has advanced significantly, and it’s all that my patients demand for cosmetic reasons. Placing an amalgam restoration is certainly not beneath the standard of care, but it’s not exactly experiencing its heyday either.
But back to dentures. Dental implants have not fully replaced the need for full and partial dentures, and they probably never will. Fixed implant restorations are cost prohibitive for some patients. They may not be ideal treatment for others. On the contrary, “implant-retained, tissue-supported, removable prostheses,” or implant overdentures, provide an affordable solution for full and partial edentulism.
Implant overdentures are not conventional dentures, and they are not fixed implant restorations. They behave in their own unique way. In this issue, Ian Shuman, DDS, and Charles Schlesinger, DDS, have each contributed articles that will remind us how we can best offer this service to our patients. I have also asked a few industry experts to share their observations about the growth of implant overdentures, and their answers may surprise you.
I wonder if conventional dentures will become obsolete. Just as you would raise an eyebrow at a vulcanite denture, will future dentists look at a conventional acrylic denture in a museum and wonder where the implant attachments are? I still fabricate a few arches of conventional removable in my practice, but implant overdentures have already surpassed them. When will I reach the tipping point where I stop recommending conventional dentures as an option?
Chris Salierno, DDS