Dentures vs Implants
Whether you have a single missing tooth or a whole jaw of missing teeth, the most common options the dentist will review with are dentures and dental implants. There is not the same best answer for everyone and the dentist can work with you to understand the difference between them. Dentures and dental implants have different pricing and have different requirements for the condition of your mouth. Either way, by replacing your missing teeth you are taking steps to protect your remaining teeth and improving your day to day life. Take the time to review the advantages and disadvantages of both dentures and dental implants so you can make the most informed decision possible. You may find that neither will work for your particular needs and something like a dental bridge may be a better fit.
Both dental implants and dentures will help you achieve the same goals:
- Improved ability to chew and enjoy foods that you were not able to with missing teeth
- Better support for your facial structures and muscles
- Clearer diction and articulation
- Higher self esteem and improved confidence with a full smile
These tooth replacement options have their own pros and cons based on the different ways that they help. Let’s review the different procedures for dentures and dental implants.
Before moving past the consultation phase for dental implants, the dentist will need to confirm that your jawbone is strong enough and healthy enough to support the implants themselves. The dentist will place screw-like posts into the jawbone to form artificial tooth roots for the prosthetic teeth. Dental implants have been most popular for adults between the ages of 55 to 64 providing a permanent replacement that will last decades to come.
First, the dentist will need to remove any remaining portions of your damaged or missing tooth before drilling a hole in your jawbone where the post will be placed. The bone will heal with the post and fuse to it forming a solid base over the course of months. An attachment or an abutment will be placed on top of the post where the crown be secured to the post which will take additional time to heal. The crown will meet your gum line and the dentist will design it to fit in with your other remaining natural teeth.
Unlike dental implants, dentures are designed to be removed and are not permanently placed in your mouth. They are able to be created to fit your specific needs whether you need an upper or lower jaw or even a few missing teeth. Complete dentures or partial dentures are made from impressions of your gums in order for them to fit snuggly while they are in place. The dentist will review your bite, jaw alignment, and the length of your upper and lower jaws to allow for clear speech and ease of chewing. In most cases, your dentures will be fabricated in a dental lab and then sent to your dentist. After a preliminary set of dentures is sent to the dentist to make final adjustments and changes to provide you the most comfort and best fit. The dentist will have you try these temporary dentures to make alterations before the final set is made. Your dentures will mimic the look of your natural teeth and gums and will remain in place with a combination of suction and denture adhesive.
Cost of dentures vs. implants
Dentures and dental bridges are less expensive than dental implants. The cost for dental implants on average is between $1,600 and $2,200 per tooth according to the American Dental Association based on your particular case and the dentist’s training and expertise. A complete set of dentures for the upper or lower jaw is about $1,600 according to the American Dental Association. The price for both of these tooth replacement options can change based on how customized the prosthetic is and how complicated your particular case is. There are more generic versions of both that are designed to fit most so the dentist may be able to work with you using one of these.
Dental implants require very similar maintenance as your natural teeth including brushing twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush, flossing, and keeping twice yearly dental appointments. These are permanent tooth replacements that will only need to be removed if the crown becomes cracked or damaged.
Dentures require more maintenance day to day and you should not wear them overnight. Instead, the dentures should remain in a cleaning solution that disinfects and moisturizes them. To ensure the dentures last as long as possible, you should remove them after eating to brush them. As your jawbone changes over time, you will need to have your dentures adjusted or you may need new dentures.
Due to the thorough screening process and advancements, dental implants have a very high long term success rate over 90%. It is important to keep in mind that dental implants are surgically placed so there may be complications that can come with any surgery like infection or issues with healing. In rare cases, dental implants may become loose or need to have repairs to the abutments or crowns over time.
Dentures most often leave people with complications when the dentures do not remain in place throughout the course of the day while eating and talking and even resulting in sores on the gums from the irritation.
The major factors to consider when deciding between dental implants and dentures are:
Dental implants are permanent as compared to the regular adjustments that dentures require. If you are younger, you may want to move forward with the investment of dental implants and if you are older you may want to avoid the time and invasive procedures of dental implants.
Jaw Bone Health and Density
Dental implants require a strong and healthy jaw bone to support the implanted posts so you may need to have bone graft procedures if your jaw bone is not dense enough for a dental implant.
Feel and Expectations
When comparing dental implants to dentures, people prefer the natural feel of dental implants. They are able to speak and chew without concern of the dental implant shifting or falling out.
If you struggle to keep up with the care your natural teeth require, then you may not want to move forward with dental implants.