Mini dentures are devices used to anchor the lower dentures, or false teeth, securely to the lower jaw. These dental implants are small, protruding, titanium screws seated into the lower jawbone that click into a corresponding socket on the bottom of the lower denture. The screws strongly anchor the lower denture to the jaw, but the dentures easily pop free when they need to be removed. Installing the mini dentures is fairly simple, requiring about an hour. Mini dentures are installed when the bottom dentures frequently float free of the lower jaw causing difficulty eating and speaking.
To install the mini dentures, the patient is given Novocain to numb the lower jaw, or if dental procedures cause extreme anxiety, the patient can be sedated during the procedure. A small hole is made in the gum and the mini denture screw is then passed through the gum and screwed down into the jaw bone. The tip of the screw is left protruding from the top of the gum. Complementary sockets are then affixed to the bottom of the old lower dentures or to a new lower denture so that the screws in the gum match and set perfectly into the sockets of the lower denture. The patient will then either be advised to test out the new prosthetic device in a few hours or will be asked to wait until the next day.
Typically, there is no pain during the procedure once the anesthesia has taken effect. It takes about one hour to install the mini dentures and once the procedure is complete, most patients do not need any additional pain medication. The dental implants do not require extensive maintenance, only needing to be checked periodically by a dentist. Occasionally, a screw, socket or the o-ring that links the screw into the socket will need to be replaced. The chance of a screw or denture socket coming loose depends on the health of the lower jaw and gum and the frequency with which the dentures are removed and inserted.
Just about any denture-wearer who suffers from slipping or floating of the lower dentures can use these mini dentures. The only requirements are a healthy lower gum and enough jawbone to anchor the screws. Surprisingly, however, only a small amount of jawbone is needed to secure the screws. When the gum is unhealthy, the procedure can be delayed and measures can be taken to try and improve the health of the gum to allow for these implants at a later date. Mini dentures are not installed on the upper jaw because the dentures for the upper jaw do not shift around as much and the upper jaw bone is much narrower and would not support the current screws.