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Overdentures: A Complete Guide

Overdentures can be a great dental treatment option if you miss some natural teeth. They can be installed on your remaining teeth, roots, or dental implants.

They prevent bone loss and improve your chewing capability. However, you have to have relatively healthy gum tissues for them.

Overdentures are removable.

They are known by different names, such as the following:

  • Overlay dentures
  • Hybrid dentures
  • Telescopic overdentures
  • Tooth-supported dentures
  • Onlay dentures
  • Superimposed dentures

In general terms, they are called:

  • Removable dentures
  • Partial dentures
  • Implant-supported dentures
  • Implant-supported overdentures
  • Dental implant overdentures.

Are you a suitable candidate for implant overdentures?

If you have one or more of the following conditions, you may qualify for implant overdentures:

  • You have a serious ridge defect. The defect may have been caused by dental trauma, tooth extraction, developmental defects, gum disease, and wearing dental appliances, including dentures.
  • Unusual tongue positions or movements do not make you an ideal candidate for conventional dentures.
  • Your remaining teeth are strong, and you do not want to remove them.
  • You want to improve your aesthetic needs by getting stable dental appliances.
  • You have had a root canal surgery

Traditional Dentures vs. Overdentures

Although they both replace missing teeth, traditional dentures and overdentures have some unique differences between them. Overdentures are more stable than regular removable dentures. That is because they are secured to your teeth or dental implants. They do not fall out of your mouth. Instead, they remain snugly in place.

Traditional dentures are a quick fix. On the other hand, overdenture treatments need time to complete.

In addition, overdentures involve surgical treatment and are more invasive than traditional dentures. They may also cause infection and inflammation in the gums if not cleaned properly.

Traditional dentures do not cost as much as overdentures do. But the result overdentures offer is more esthetic and durable.

Overdentures help prevent bone loss in your jaws. The implants they rest on distribute the bite force to the jawbones, thus keeping them alive and active.

2 types of overdentures you need to know about

Your overdentures can be of some of the following two types:

  1. Tooth-supported overdentures
  2. Implant-supported overdentures

Tooth-supported overdentures

Tooth-supported removable overdentures rest on your natural teeth. The teeth, ideally a canine, work as abutments.

The teeth selected for holding the dentures should be healthy. They could have a root canal treatment, but the tooth structure must be in good shape.

The teeth will be prepared for overdentures so that your bite remains the same.

Tooth-supported overdentures are the most cost-effective option in this regard. They also offer the following preventative advantages:

  • They preserve the four tissues of the mouth that help anchor the teeth in your jaws. The tissues are the cementum, periodontal ligament, alveolar bone, and gingiva.
  • They also help prevent bone loss

Implant-supported overdentures

As the name suggests, implant-supported overdentures rest on your dental implants instead of your natural teeth. These are also called implant dentures.

They are the best choice for your oral health as they offer greater stability in your mouth to chew your food properly.

Care for them as you would care for your original teeth.

Once the wound heals following your implant surgery, you will forget that you have dentures in your mouth.

Implant-supported overdentures are recognized for providing a successful long-term result. They offer a high implant survival rate and patient satisfaction.

Based on how they are retained, implant overdentures can be of the following two types:

  • Bar-retained implant-supported overdentures
  • Ball-retained implant-supported overdentures

5 main advantages of overdentures

  1. Overdentures prevent bone loss
  2. They increase your chewing capability
  3. They are stable and secure in your mouth
  4. You do not have to remove your good natural teeth to make room for them
  5. They are removable

Abutment Types Connecting Overdentures

  • Magnets (suitable for elderly patients; require meticulous hygiene measures to remove the accumulated plaque around the magnets)
  • Balls (the simplest and most widely recommended attachment system)
  • Bars (made of single or multiple bars)

The type will be selected based on the anatomic configuration of your jaws.

However, the bar type has been the go-to attachment style due to its superiority in force distribution.

Bar attachment systems are divided into two groups:

  1. Attachment systems that allow rotational movement between the components
  2. Comparatively rigid bar attachments that allow no movement

Dental Overdenture treatment procedure

The implant-supported overdenture treatment process is straightforward. The treatment has four main components to it:

  • Initial consultation with your dentist
  • Implant surgery
  • Healing period
  • Fabrication of overdentures
  • Placement of overdentures

During the initial consultation, your dentist will examine your mouth and discuss different treatment options. That may include a brief discussion on the following:

  • Regular denture
  • Snap-in dentures
  • Fixed denture
  • Implant-supported denture
  • Overdenture abutment

Your dentist will highlight key differences between implant-retained overdentures and conventional complete dentures.

They will also explain to you the condition of your gum tissue, tooth root, and jawbone. You will know whether you need a bone graft for your implants and any special attachments you will need. The number of implants will be indicated at this point.

The dentist will create a treatment plan based on your specific needs and answer any questions regarding the implant system and surgery.

Factors to consider before planning an overdenture treatment

  • The quantity of bone available for implants
  • The quality of the bone
  • Number of implants and how they will be distributed within the mouth
  • Location of implants
  • Implant types
  • Denture material
  • Attachment types
  • The inter-arch distance
  • The relationship between the upper and lower jaw
  • How your teeth meet when you bite something
  • The overall cost of the dental procedure

What are the most common complications with implant overdentures?

Technical complications

  • Overdenture fracture
  • Chipping of the veneer material

Mechanical complications

  • Implant fracture
  • Attachment failure
  • Screw loosening
  • Complications related to attachment housing or insertion

More incidences of screw loosening were noticed among bar-anchored overdentures than ball-retained overdentures.

Dentists recommend more frequent renewals of overdentures after five years.


How many teeth are needed for tooth-supported overdentures?

You need two or more natural teeth to be used as abutments for tooth-supported overdentures. Your natural teeth work as the foundation for the new appliances. However, any defect or decay in those teeth will compromise the integrity of the overdenture system.

What is a healthy tooth for overdentures?

You need a healthy tooth to use as an anchor for your overdenture. A healthy tooth means it does not suffer from gum disease, is evenly distributed on the arch so it can pass on the strain evenly, and has at least more than 13 mm of space between itself and the opposite tooth. This tooth should not have any inflammation in the soft tissue at its base or root.

What is the survival rate of implant-retained overdentures?

According to Periodontology, implant-retained overdentures display a 95% to 100% survival rate after 5 years.

Post-operative instructions for overdentures

Your implant dentist will instruct you to take care of your overdentures to ensure they last long and remain stable in your mouth. These instructions may include the following:

  • Maintaining oral hygiene so you can avoid a second surgery
  • Meeting your dentist for periodic examination of your oral health
  • Types of food you should consume (dentures have limits)
  • Preventing more missing teeth
  • Acting responsibly in case of a dental emergency
  • Getting long-term results from your dental appliances


Selim K, Ali S, Reda A. Implant Supported Fixed Restorations versus Implant Supported Removable Overdentures: A Systematic Review. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2016 Dec 15;4(4):726-732.

David A. Reed, Thomas G.H. Diekwisch, in Stem Cell Biology and Tissue Engineering in Dental Sciences, 2015.

Irena Sailer, Duygu Karasan, Ana Todorovic, Maria Ligoutsikou, Bjarni Elvar Pjetursson. Prosthetic failures in dental implant therapy. Periodontology. Volume 88, Issue 1, February 2022, pages 130-144.

Payne AG, Alsabeeha NH, Atieh MA, Esposito M, Ma S, Anas El-Wegoud M. Interventions for replacing missing teeth: attachment systems for implant overdentures in edentulous jaws. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Oct 11;10(10):CD008001.

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