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Tooth-Supported Overdentures: A low-cost alternative to crowns and permanent bridges


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[Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner. I'm simply relating my experience in case it's useful to you. Each person's situation is different. What works for me might not work for you. Please consult your dentist for professional counsel tailored to your unique situation.]

This is not a widely-promoted option in the West, as mentioned by a dental research organization (based in India) in this study:
 

Quote

"Tooth supported overdentures: A concept overshadowed but not yet forgotten!"

http://www.jorr.org/text.asp?2015/7/1/16/160172

The cost of the overdenture? 4900 MXN

My overdenture is basically a heavy-duty plastic night guard that you wear during the day, at meals, etc. It's worn on the upper arch and covers and cushions all the upper teeth, thus protecting all the teeth in the mouth. It has a row of attractive faux teeth "fronts", which has improved my smile quite a bit, at a minimal cost to boot!

Here's the front of my overdenture. You can see the nice white "picket fence" of faux teeth "fronts":

811457305_01overdenturesfront.jpg.bff75e7183c206f86ca693b98a614ccd.jpg


Here's a top view, you can see the trough where my real upper teeth fit in behind the fronts:
 
387417275_02overdenturestop.jpg.256ca35e86ca608c0662c97c4a9bd39b.jpg


Here's an underside view:

542224303_03overdenturesbottom.jpg.64fb6bb2d47b1aa1c9d32f4d0788ab99.jpg

Notice how all my upper teeth are totally protected from abrasion, as well as from food particles getting forced into the gaps between the upper teeth and the gums, which eventually would've caused additional problems. This same surface protects my lower teeth as well, as they no longer grind into the upper teeth, but rather into the overdenture's (relatively) soft plastic -- the same protective principle as a night guard.

In my case, because I have bruxism (unconscious grinding of teeth, particularly during sleep), the tops of my teeth have worn down. This worked in my favor, because this made room in my bite for the overdenture to fit in without having to grind down or modify my teeth! Also, I have enough natural teeth to fully support the overdenture, it just snaps into place, no implants, clasps, or hooks needed.

All that was needed were some impressions to make the overdenture.
 
If I had opted for crowns instead, my teeth would need to be ground ("tapered") so each crown would fit in the same space as the original tooth.

I'm missing some lower teeth, and thus needed some bridges. Rather than expensive permanent bridges and implants, I opted for an RFD (Removable Flexible Denture -- bi-lateral bridge). I opted to have the framework made from Lucitone FRS, a nylon resin, which is considered more biocompatible than some other materials. I opted for the default acrylic teeth, to keep costs down.

The RFD added another 4900 MXN to the total cost.

Finally, I ordered a night guard. While I could've just used the overdenture and RFD for nighttime use as well, a night guard is much smaller, covering only the top third of the upper teeth (because appearance is not a factor) rather than the full height of the teeth and thus promotes unimpeded saliva flow overnight. My night guard cost 1100 MXN rather than 700 MXN, as I had it made of Lucitone FRS (for higher biocompatibility), which for night guards requires more labor, compared with the automated process for night guards. From what I understand it will last longer.

So, the total cost for

* one overdenture, for the top arch  (4900 MXN)
* one RFD, for the bottom arch         (4900 MXN)
* one night guard                                (1100 MXN)

is 10,900 MXN.

As one dental hygienist said, "Interestingly, the more complex and biologically incompatible the option, the more costly it is."

Best of all, I can easily remove everything and give my teeth and gums a good cleaning as needed, unlike permanent bridgework and crowns.

For the RFD, I found the following article from Dr. Mercola's website was quite informative (though I opted for the default acrylic teeth, for cost considerations):

Quote

Partials -- Your Least Expensive Option

Going back in time, removable partials were all dentistry offered to replace missing teeth. Our current culture values looking young, so partials -- associated with our grandparents -- are a difficult aesthetic choice. They may however be the choice that offers the best chance for aging well. Partials are designed based on how many teeth need replacing. Metal frameworks were once the norm, but the future lies in non-metal dental repairs. New materials:

* Are less obvious

* Avoid the adverse properties of metal restorations

* Are able to distribute chewing forces over a greater area compared to metal framework partials, and are therefore more comfortable

* Relines are less frequent

* According to the Clifford Biocompatibility Test, Flexite and Valplast (light, flexible, yet strong nylon resins) are biocompatible for 99 percent of the population. Lucitone FRS is a very similar biocompatible nylon resin. None of these use a heavy metal (cadmium) as a pink colorant as some other dental materials do. Many patients choose a clear framework to avoid any possible reaction to the colorant. Nylon materials can draw in water and with it, odors and stain, though good hygiene can mitigate this problem.

* VisiClear is another nylon-free biocompatible partial material

For best aesthetics, biocompatibility, and biomimetic function, choose DiamondCrown or zirconia teeth in your partial rather than the default acrylic teeth most often used. If you must add another tooth to any of the above partials, that is possible, too. The lab simply reuses the artificial teeth, the most valuable component, and remakes the framework with the new tooth!

Biocomp Labs and the Clifford Consulting and Research Lab offer individualized dental materials testing, recommended especially for those with multiple chemical sensitivities or anyone who needs dental work and feels their health could be challenged by the wide range of dental materials available.

Most patients tell me they consider these newer partials to be comfortable and aesthetically unnoticeable, though they are annoyed that foods tend to trap under them. People with spider partials tell me they often take them out to eat, but wear them the rest of the time to maintain the space until dentistry offers them more biocompatible "fixed" choices.

515350004_04partials1.jpg.22592cae696efe2a54cbc373d2a67dcd.jpg

589881344_05partials2.jpg.64804d5da60c144712062a7f90c1644f.jpg

Caption:
The intentional exposed palate design in this partial means the wearer can continue good oral posture, which means properly keep the tongue in contact with the palate

It's been two months since I got my overdenture, a year on my RFD, and two years on my night guard -- they're all working great!

With this type of denture, if the fit becomes loose, it can be "relined", using what is called "cold patch" (as compared to the hot liquid plastic used when the denture is originally cast). A year ago I had an RFD repaired (that I'd dropped) using cold patch, but from then on I noticed a strong plastic taste after wearing the RFD for a while. From what I've read, cold-patch is less biocompatible then the original plastic.

I want to thank the staff at Dental Express (in western Ajijic on the Carretera, 376-106-2080) for their support while on this journey:

Dr. Edgard Macías, clinic director. An excellent communicator and teacher.

Dr. Rodrigo Serrano, who said we'll work on this until it's right. And he did! It's very comfortable.

Ivan Arrayga, dental lab lead technician. His painstaking work, in teamwork with Drs. Edgard and Rodrigo, was much appreciated.

I would recommend them.

* free consultations

* reasonable prices

* free shuttle ("in town")

* in-house lab

* modern equipment

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5 hours ago, mexart said:

Im very interested in this option. Is this possible as a walk-in? Or?

I don't know what Dental Express' policy is regarding walk-ins. I would suggest giving them a call and ask for a free consultation with Dr. Edgard or Dr. Rodrigo, whoever has the next available opening.

 

3 hours ago, SunshineyDay said:

yes if I go to Dental Express who would I talk to about this process?

Dr. Rodrigo did the actual overdenture work.  Dr. Sergio also has experience with overdentures (I've never met him).

 

3 hours ago, suegarn said:

What holds the overdenture in place while you are chewing food?  Wouldn't it be popping out all the time?

The same design that holds a nightguard in place. I think it's made just a little smaller than the actual teeth, so the overdenture "snugs in". Also, it has protrusions that act as "space holders" for my missing teeth, to keep the remaining teeth from drifting into the gap at an angle, resulting in "bad bite". These space holders help keep the overdenture in place as well.

I've haven't yet tried eating thick, gooey foods that create a suction when chewing.

I suppose with time the overdenture might become somewhat loose. After two years, my night guard is somewhat loose, but still works fine. There is the option to "reline" to make it snug again, but that has its drawbacks (see original post).

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  • 1 year later...

Addendum, 2020-07-23

It's been a year and a half wearing the overdentures on my upper arch, with no problem at all. They're very comfortable, and an easy and complete removal for cleaning is a real advantage. As mentioned in the original post, at night I'll wear my night guard, as it's much smaller, just covering the top of the teeth, and thus allows free flow of saliva. I purchased the night guard 3.5 years ago, specifying Lucitone FRS (a nylon resin rather than the default acrylic) and it's still going strong!

The overdenture is so comfortable and protected the upper teeth so well, that in February 2020 I had some overdentures made for my lower teeth, to protect the lower gums, etc. Five months later and I'm still quite happy with this arrangement. No longer does food get stuck between my teeth and gums, my bite is improved, and my teeth well-protected.

The only negative I've encountered with having both upper and lower overdentures is that all biting/grinding is done between two sets of (not sharp) plastic teeth. So, it's not the super-sharp ultra-hard natural enamel, but rather relatively soft plastic. Foods such as popcorn no longer can be easily ground to a fine slurry, but rather are flattened into something that looks like oatmeal flakes, unless chewed intentionally. Maybe in the future this problem might be solved by using a different material on the overdentures' food-grinding surfaces, when there are both upper and lower overdentures in use.

Oh, one other item that might be considered a negative... (or a positive!): Overdentures do not require grinding the teeth down to "pegs", which are required for crowns as crowns must fit into the same space as the original teeth. With crowns, natural enamel and original tooth material are lost. A positive with overdentures is you keep all your original tooth material, because no grinding to pegs is required. This could make the difference in the future between keeping a tooth or losing it.  The negative is that, because no grinding is done, overdentures are somewhat "larger than life" to fit over the teeth. But that can make for a beautiful smile. 

Your experience with overdentures may vary. Please see the Disclaimer at the top of the original post.
 

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