Dentures vs Implants

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Dentures vs. Implants: Which is Right for You?

Both dentures and implants are great options for anyone with missing or broken teeth. While dentures and dental implants both require proper care, they can boost your self-esteem. It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent further damage to your natural teeth.

Both options have pros and cons that may or may not work with your lifestyle. This article will help determine which option is best for your needs.

What are Dentures?

Dentures are prosthetic teeth that restore function and aesthetics when you are missing teeth. They help you eat, speak, smile, and laugh comfortably and confidently. If you’ve had an oral injury that resulted in tooth loss or broken teeth, or if you have severe tooth decay, dentures can help.

There are different types of dentures. Some are permanent, and some are removable. Some are full dentures, and some are only partial. Full dentures work best if you’re missing all of your natural teeth. Partial dentures work best if you need to replace just a few broken or missing teeth. 

Your general dentist or prosthodontist should talk with you about the best type of dentures for your oral health needs. They generally have an acrylic, gum-colored base that’s attached to a metal framework.

Overdentures are another option. These are implant-supported dentures that sit at the top of your gums, held in place by dental implants. Your dentist or oral surgeon will screw the implants into your jawbone to stabilize them.

removable full implant denture

Immediate dentures are dentures that you wear while healing from a tooth extraction surgery. The healing process typically takes about six months, and you’ll use these until you get your new conventional dentures.

removable full denture lower jaw

Dentures Treatment Process

The denture treatment process is simple and consists of three steps:

  1. Your dentist will take an impression of your mouth. With that impression, they’ll create a custom set of dentures for you.
  2. If you have to have surgery to remove any teeth, your dentist will first give you immediate dentures. These go in right after surgery and stay in while you heal. When you’re ready for conventional dentures, you’ll switch.
  3. You’ll pay regular visits to your dentist to make sure your dentures fit.

It’s important to care for your dentures as you would your natural teeth. Brush them twice a day and keep them clean so they last longer.

Pros of Dentures

If you have broken or missing teeth, dentures are a simple solution for giving you a full smile. 

The advantages of dentures include:

  • Dentures will complete your smile if you have missing teeth.
  • Dentures can replace broken teeth to give you a confidence boost.
  • Dentures can help you chew, speak, and function better overall.
  • Dentures can help keep your face from changing shape.
  • Some dentures may be removable for convenience.
  • Some dentures may be permanent for convenience.

Cons of Dentures

With many dental procedures, dentures may take some time to get used to wearing. 

The disadvantages of dentures include:

  • They may feel uncomfortable for the first few days. 
  • Your mouth may feel sore.
  • You may develop sores around the dentures. 
  • Not all dentures are permanent (some are removable).
  • While dentures should last you years, you may need to replace them over time.
  • You will need to practice proper dental care to prolong the life of your dentures.
  • Dentures can be expensive (upwards of $4,000). However, many dental insurance providers cover some or all of the cost of dentures. Talk to your insurance provider to see if your plan can help.

If the dentures are unbearably uncomfortable or if the discomfort persists, talk to your dentist. It’s important that your dentures fit and function correctly. Your dentist should be able to help adjust your dentures however necessary.


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What are Dental Implants?

Modern-day dental implants have been around for over three decades. In fact, ancient dental implants trace back to around 600 AD. Researchers found a Mayan woman with tooth-like shell pieces hammered into her jaw. So you can trust that they’re a go-to solution.

jaw with teeth and dental molar implant

Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that look like screws. They’re surgically placed through your gum tissue into your jaw bone, where they naturally bond to the bone. And they support artificial teeth called crowns. A connector, called an abutment, holds each custom-made crown. The crowns are made to match your remaining teeth in color and shape. They’ll look just like your healthy teeth if done right.

Dental implants are the closest option to replacing missing teeth. They help give you a complete smile and allow you to chew and speak better. Dental implant surgery may sound scary. However, the surgery is largely considered one of the safest procedures in dentistry. It’s very common as well.

Implant Procedure Process

The implant procedure process is a little more complicated than the denture procedure process. This is because it requires surgery. You may also need an additional surgery from implants like bone grafting or a sinus augmentation. 

The dental implant procedure process is as follows:

  1. You’ll have any damaged teeth removed.
  2. Your dentist will prepare with bone grafting.
  3. Your dentist will place the dental implants in place of your missing natural teeth.
  4. You’ll wait for your bone to grow and heal.
  5. The abutment will be placed, followed by the artificial tooth.

As with dentures, it’s important that you follow typical protocol for cleaning your teeth. Always brush your dental implants like you brush your natural teeth. Floss and rinse with mouthwash as well. Doing so can help to prevent oral health issues like gum disease. And it can help your implants last longer.

Pros of Implants

With all dental procedures, there are pros and cons. However, dental implants are the only option that preserves your natural bone. This makes them a popular choice among patients and dentists. 

Tooth implants actually help stimulate bone growth. This is why three million people in the United States have dental implants. And that number is growing by about 500,000 every single year.

The advantages of implants include:

  • Dental implants preserve your natural bone
  • Dental implants stimulate bone growth
  • Dental implants can complete your smile if you have broken or missing teeth
  • Dental implants can help you chew and speak normally
  • Dental implants are easy to clean with the rest of your natural teeth
  • Dental implants should last you well over a decade
  • Dental implants are a permanent, long-lasting solution compared to removable appliances

Cons of Implants

Because dental implants require surgery, this can be an uncomfortable and costly solution. Your mouth will have to heal from the surgery. And, of course, you’ll have to pay for it. 

A single dental implant can cost between $3,000 and $4,500 if you don’t have insurance. Fortunately, many dental insurance providers will help cover some or all of the cost.

There are also some risks involved with dental implant surgery. For example, the disadvantages of implants include:

  • Developing an infection at the implant site
  • Injuring or damaging the surrounding teeth or blood vessels
  • Damaging the surrounding nerves, which can cause pain, numbness, or tingling in and around your mouth
  • Causing sinus problems if dental implants placed in the upper jaw protrude into a sinus cavity

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Are Dentures or Implants More Expensive?

Dentures and implants are both about the same in price, but it depends on what type of dentures you get and how many implants you need.

For example, if you get economy dentures, they’ll be the most affordable option compared to custom dentures. (They’ll also be less comfortable). 

If you only need one dental implant, it will cost you about the same as dentures. But dentures may not be totally necessary if you need just one or a few artificial teeth. However, the more dental implants you need, the more they’ll cost you. 

Ultimately, you’re looking at at least a few thousand for either option. But dentures and dental implants may be worth the investment. Not only can they give you back confidence, they can also help your mouth function properly so you can speak and chew normally again.

Talk to your dentist about which option is right for you.

Resources

“Dental Implant Surgery.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 29 Jan. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/dental-implant-surgery/about/pac-20384622

“Does Dental Insurance Cover Dental Implants?” Guardian Direct, www.guardiandirect.com/dental-insurance/does-dental-cover-dental-implants

“Does Dental Insurance Cover Dentures?” Guardian Direct, www.guardiandirect.com/resources/articles/does-dental-insurance-cover-dentures

Hanif, Ayesha, et al. “Complications in Implant Dentistry.” European Journal of Dentistry, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5379828/

“Patient Smart: Patient Education Center” American Dental Association, https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/ADA_PatientSmart_Dentures.pdf

Setzer, F C, and S Kim. “Comparison of Long-Term Survival of Implants and Endodontically Treated Teeth.” Journal of Dental Research, SAGE Publications, Jan. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872851/

Setzer, F C, and S Kim. “Comparison of Long-Term Survival of Implants and Endodontically Treated Teeth.” Journal of Dental Research, SAGE Publications, Jan. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872851/

“What Are Dental Implants?” American Academy of Implant Dentistry, www.aaid-implant.org/dental-implants/what-are-dental-implants/.

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