What to Know About Snap-in Dentures

Medically Reviewed by Robert Brennan on April 27, 2023
4 min read

Snap-in dentures, also called implant-supported dentures, are a possible solution to the problem of tooth decay and missing teeth. The American College of Prosthodontists reports that as many as 120 million Americans have lost at least one tooth, while another 36 million have lost all their teeth. If you’re thinking about using dentures to replace your natural teeth, snap-in dentures, as opposed to traditional dentures, may be worth looking into.

Traditional dentures use a mold of your mouth that is held in place with either suction or some kind of glue. They have to be cleaned just as regularly as natural teeth and safely stored away when not in use. Although they work fairly well in most daily circumstances, they do have some serious drawbacks:

  • Traditional dentures can come loose while eating, talking, or engaging in virtually any activity that exerts pressure on your mouth.
  • Since the denture sits relatively lightly in your mouth, the jawbone tends to weaken from reduced use.
  • Loose or poorly fitted dentures have a habit of rubbing against the gum line, which can cause damage over time.

Many people who use these dentures live with the anxiety of them falling out at an awkward moment, and this can impact their self-esteem. Snap-in dentures were developed to address this concern.

Whereas traditional dentures rest on the gum line, snap-in dentures stay in place through orthodontic implants. These implants are like posts, surgically placed into the jaw at specific areas to support the dentures, which are “snapped” into place using the posts. The snap-in dentures are removable, but the implanted posts are not.

In some cases, the orthodontic implants are accompanied by a metal plate that runs over the gum line. The dentures bind magnetically to that metal plate to stay in place. In other cases, small magnetic connecting points are attached to the implants themselves, and these, in turn, are used to bind with the dentures.

Whichever option you use is a matter of personal preference. The point of both of them is to allow intentional, not accidental, removability. You want to remove your dentures easily at the right time, not have them fall out easily at the wrong time.

Traditional dentures don’t put a lot of pressure on the jawbone, which can lessen the force exerted while biting food. That can reduce your ability to chew certain kinds of foods, lower your overall nutrient intake, and may eventually erode the jawbone itself.

The orthodontic implants used for snap-in dentures, on the other hand, integrate directly into the biting action of your mouth. Researchers have found that the maximum biting force of someone using implanted dentures can be as much as 300% higher than it would be with ordinary dentures.

Moreover, most snap-in dentures are still removable. They can be taken out at the end of the day and cleaned just like traditional dentures. They are, despite that flexibility, much more stable than regular dentures, in that they won’t suddenly fall out right in the middle of an exciting conversation or delicious meal.

The last advantage is more subjective but no less important. The increased stability of snap-in dentures can naturally help you feel more comfortable and at ease in social situations. Without worrying about a potentially embarrassing dental “mishap,” you may feel freer to smile and be yourself, so to speak.

Nothing is perfect, and no solution is right for everybody. Snap-in dentures need to fit into implants made on the jawbone. This presupposes a jawbone capable of handling such, and not everyone can. Either the shape of the mouth or the erosion of bone can sometimes render the jaw incapable of withstanding the implants needed for snap-in dentures.

The implants themselves can only be set in place through major orthodontic surgery. There are many reasons why that might not be an option for you. The surgery requires the use of anesthesia, which might not be an option for people living with certain medical conditions.

As with other dental surgeries, there’s a rest and recovery period during which you can reasonably expect to feel discomfort. Most people get through this within a day or two, but it’s still something to bear in mind.

Although the use of snap-in dentures has increased greatly in recent years, they’re not expected to completely replace traditional dentures. They are an excellent option for many people, but others won’t be able to tolerate them. A minority of implants are known to fail in the long-term.