Maybe you currently have dentures and are considering switching to implant supports. Otherwise you may be considering what would be the best fit for your first replacement teeth: old fashioned dentures or implant supported dentures. Either way, we are glad you're here. It is important to be educated about the health and quality of life implications of forgoing implant supports because they are substantial. Some may find unsupported dentures functional for a time, but they inevitably cease to fit properly. This is due to a process called bone atrophy whereby the bones that used to support your teeth begin to deteriorate because they are not being used anymore.
It is possible to get implant supported overdentures that remove at night to clean or fixed brides that are just like natural teeth and are not removed at home. The overdenture option is like getting traditional dentures but with the benefits of implants: increased comfort, long lasting effectiveness and stopping bone atrophy. Overdentures cover your gums and the roof of your mouth like traditional dentures. It takes 2-4 implants for a stable lower denture and typically 4-6 for a stable upper denture. They are typically only preferable over fixed bridges for people who have had dentures in the past, but hey- everyone's different and fixed bridges do require 1-3 extra implants so you may want to explore that option regardless of where you are coming from in terms of oral health history. Especially since you can *upgrade* to fixed bridges from over dentures at any time.
Fixed bridges work like individual implants on a larger scale. You don't need an implants for every tooth though. Bridge refers to the teeth that are supported by implants not directly underneath them, such that the implants are like the support towers in a bridge for trains, cars or what-have-you. However, you will need a few more than with overdentures. It typically works out to 5 or 6 implants for a full lower fixed bridge and a minimum of 6 for a full upper fixed bridge. While you will need to get more implants, fixed bridges are widely prefered to overdentures because with these beauties you might as well have a new set of teeth. As the word fixed implies, your new bridges will not be going anywhere while you are trying to eat or speak. They don't cover your gums or the roof of your mouth, so they they don't typically impact speech at all and look very natural. You leave them in all the time and brush them like natural teeth. Fixed bridges are nothing less than a fresh start.