Dentures vs Implants
Dentures and implants are common treatment options for patients who are missing one or more of their teeth. There are numerous factors which can impact which is the best solution such as cost, personal preference, jawbone health, and time available to complete treatment.
Implants and dentures both have certain advantages and disadvantages. There is no single answer to which solution is best. Patients should discuss their options with the dentist to determine which treatment option will best meet their needs. Patients can also consider exploring alternate solutions which may include a dental bridge.
The purpose of dentures and implants are similar and include the following:
- Aid in proper chewing and consuming foods which may not otherwise be allowed
- Enhanced self-esteem and improved aesthetics with the replacement of missing teeth
- Improved speech and function
- Provide support to the facial muscles
While there are some similarities between implants and dentures, there are also quite a few differences. This article will review the pros and cons for each treatment and things to consider prior to making a decision and beginning treatment.
Patients who are considering implants must have adequate bone in their jaw which is necessary to support the screw-like implant. The tooth-like crown is then attached to the implant. Implants are increasing in their popularity, specifically for adult patients who are 55-64 years old.
The first step of placing a dental implant is to ensure the jawbone is healthy and ready for the placement of the implant. This may include extracting the damaged tooth or root. Once the tooth and root are gone, the titanium implant post is placed directly into the jawbone. The implant will eventually receive a crown, however, this will not occur until the implant has fused to the bone. The complete healing process may take a few months before the abutment can be placed. In some cases, the abutment is placed along with the implant. During the final step of the implant procedure, the crown or artificial tooth is created and attached to the abutment.
Dentures are prosthetic teeth which are removable. Regardless of the amount of bone present, dentures can be used to replace missing teeth as they rest on top of the jawbone. Dentures are available in a complete set for use on the upper and/or lower jaw. They can also be used as a replacement option for patients who are just missing a few teeth. When this is the case, they are called partial dentures.
To create dentures, an impression of the upper and/or lower gums is obtained. This impression will be used to create the dentures for replacing the missing teeth.
Prior to creating the dentures, the dentist will review the patient’s bite and the alignment of the upper and/or lower jaw. This helps to ensure the dentures allow for optimal chewing, speech, and function. An initial set of dentures are created in a lab and then sent to the dentist. Once they are ready, the dentures are placed in the mouth and adjusted as needed. This can include adjusting the alignment or length of the teeth. Once the temporary dentures are correct, a final set of dentures is then created.
Dentures appear similar to the natural teeth and gums. They are secured in place using a special type of adhesive which attaches them to the gums.
Dentures & Implant Cost
In general, dental implants cost more than dentures or other types of tooth replacement solutions. While the cost for implants will vary based on numerous factors, the average cost of an implant is about $1,600-$2,200 per tooth according to the American Dental Association (ADA). According to the ADA, a complete set of upper or lower dentures is about $1,600.
The proper care for dental implants is quite similar to regular oral hygiene for the natural teeth. This includes twice daily brushing, flossing each day, and regular visits to the dentist for an exam and professional cleaning. Dentures, however, require additional cleaning and maintenance. For example, dentures should be removed each night to soak in water or a special cleaning solution. Dentures should also be removed daily for cleaning. They should also be rinsed and brushed after eating. Any remaining adhesive on the gums should also be removed.
When the jawbone lacks the stimulation of the missing tooth, the bite can change over time. As a result, the fit of the dentures will require adjustments. Dental implants in comparison, are permanent and do not require adjustment as they stimulate the jawbone. If the crown is cracked or damaged, it will need to be replaced.
Dental implants are considered to be an incredibly safe and effective solution for the replacement of missing teeth. Some of the possible complications include infection or issues with the crown and implant. Dental implants have an impressive success rate of about 95%.
Common complications associated with dentures include the dentures slipping or moving during use, discomfort or sores on the gums, frustration with the daily cleaning, change in the bone and structure, and dietary limitations.
Dental implants are a permanent solution and excellent for adults as they typically last for a few decades or more. For adults who are older or want to avoid the invasive and time consuming procedures associated with implants, they may be better suited with dentures.
For implant candidates, a certain amount of jawbone is required to properly support the implant post. Patients who do not have a sufficient amount of bone may not be good implant candidates. The dentist can perform bone grafting in some cases to resolve this issue, however, this is an added cost and extends the timeline for the procedure.
Dental implants are known for offering patients with exceptional comfort and improved function in comparison to traditional dentures. In a study which was conducted in 2019, however, people with implant-supported dentures reported similar satisfaction. While dentures have some functional limitations, the relatively quick, non-invasive treatment time and affordability make them an enticing solution for many patients.
For patients who are either unable or unwilling to properly care for their dentures, they should consider implants as their ideal tooth-replacement solution. Implants do not require as much maintenance, however, they are more expensive. In discussing the possible tooth-replacement solutions with the dentist, patients need to be honest about their ability and discipline in caring for dentures.
If you are looking for a solution for your missing teeth, schedule an appoint with your dentist to discuss if you may be a good candidate for implants or dentures. Both solutions offer patients with improved function and aesthetics for their missing teeth.