When you need to replace one or more missing teeth, you have a few options, including dentures and dental implants. Both options come with their advantages and disadvantages regarding cosmetic and health reasons, so it’s essential to pick the one that suits you the best.
Dentures vs implants; which is the right solution for tooth loss? How do they differ, and would an alternative, like bridges, be better? We’re looking at this and more.
Dentures and dental implants are effective tooth replacement options.
Dentures can be used as a permanent or temporary solution for lost teeth.
Implants are expensive but long-lasting.
Dentures are cheap but degrade quickly.
Implants improve oral health, while dentures increase disease risk.
Implants have a greater resemblance to natural teeth.Both dentures and implants can replace one or more teeth.
Dentures are prosthetic devices that replace one or more missing teeth and surrounding tissue. They can be partial or complete, as well as fixed or removable.
Complete dentures, also known as full dentures or a complete set, replace all the teeth and take up the whole mouth instead of just a part of it. They are commonly made of acrylic and can be permanent or removable. There are two main parts of complete dentures:
Partial removable dentures do an excellent job of restoring the aesthetics of your mouth and filling the gaps in your smile. However, partial dentures are only an option if you have existing healthy teeth.
Partial dentures use pink acrylic gums, artificial teeth, and sometimes a metal clasp to fix the false tooth in your mouth. The clasp might be visible when you open your mouth, depending on its location.
These types of conventional dentures also prevent surrounding teeth from changing their position as well as improving speech and chewing.
Although partial dentures can be made of several materials, nylon and metal types are considered the best partial dentures .
Dentures work as replacements for missing teeth and, depending on the type, are held in place by forming a seal with the gums or using metal clasps. Both a partial and complete denture can be permanent or removable.
Permanent dentures are secured in place with two or more surgically-placed dental implants. Because of the stable base, permanent dentures allow you to chew, speak, and smile more easily.
Dentures are usually created over several weeks. Your dentist will begin the process by taking several impressions of your teeth and jaw, measuring the dimensions of your mouth. Additionally, you will likely be asked to make a dental impression using a mold multiple times before the final dentures are cast.
Dentures are permanent or removable options for replacing a few missing teeth or multiple teeth. They are relatively affordable, however, not very durable, so you have to replace them every few years. Also, loose dentures can lead to bone loss.
Dental implants are surgically secured to your jawbone, and provide a stable base for other denture work, like replacement teeth (crowns) or dentures. Implants are permanent, but the prosthesis can be either fixed or removable.
Dental implants are surgically inserted into your jawbone with a metal prosthetic root. They are made of titanium, which fuses with your jaw bone, making them very stable.
An implant involves the step-by-step addition of a screw, an abutment, and finally, a crown. The process of screw insertion in your jawbone is completely pain-free as patients are given options whether they prefer sedation, local, or general anesthesia.
It is a long process from start to finish, generally between 3–9 months. However, you can opt for same-day implants where the entire procedure is done in one day following the initial workup.
Implants are a natural-looking replacement for your missing teeth. They are extremely effective, durable, prevent bone loss, and are very similar to real teeth. However, a dental implant can be expensive and the process can take a while.
There are significant differences between the two dental treatments for replacing missing teeth that you should consider before making a decision, such as:
Dentures are generally cheaper than implants for replacing a missing tooth, with prices ranging from $300 to $1,000. On the contrary, a single tooth implant costs about $4000 on average.
Most dental insurance companies cover a part or the complete cost of dentures. However, this policy may vary depending on the insurer.
Dental insurance companies generally do not cover the costs of implants. However, your medical plan may cover some costs depending on the cause of tooth loss and the details of your insurance plan.
Implants are expensive and not covered by insurance. However, although not as comfortable, dentures are relatively cheap and often covered by dental insurance.
The process of getting dental implants is long and requires several surgical operations. Not to mention that dentists carry out extensive pre-surgical tests, including CT scans and X-rays to test the possibility of inserting an implant.
Comparatively, dentures only require an accurate impression of your jaw. No surgery or scans are needed unless you’re having permanent dentures.
Implants for tooth loss are also more foolproof, healthy, and long-lasting. You don’t have to check in with your dentist every few weeks, and neither do you have to worry about oral health diseases, as is the case with dentures.
Concerning dental implants vs dentures, getting dentures is an easier procedure. But in the long run, implants are the better option. They require fewer visits to the dental clinic after tooth restoration, unlike dentures, which need regular evaluation and maintenance.
Dentures require regular cleaning and special care; your dentists will explain in detail how to clean dentures. For instance, you have to wash them daily with a toothbrush and denture cleaner and soak them in a solution overnight to ensure maximum hygiene.
Moreover, they may yellow over time, so it’s useful to learn how to whiten dentures to keep a fresh appearance.
To maintain your implants, brush your teeth twice daily and floss at least once, similar to how you care for your natural teeth. You should also visit your dentist once every three to six months, depending on how recent your implant is.
Implants are easier to maintain than dentures and you’re at less risk of developing a mouth or gum disease.
Dentures have a shorter lifespan than implants, generally between 5 and 7 years. Whereas, dental implants may last a lifetime depending on when you get them.
Furthermore, dentures are comparatively fragile. Even with reasonable care, there is a good chance you’ll have to replace them within several years.
Between dental implants vs dentures, Implants are more suitable for people looking for a permanent solution, whereas dentures may be less expensive, but their durability reflects the low costs.
There are certain complications associated with the use of both dentures and implants.
You may experience soreness and discomfort for a few hours or days after getting new dentures, which could be due to the friction between your dentures and gums. However, it should fade after a brief adjustment period.
You can also rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution, take over-the-counter pain meds, or try massaging to relieve soreness. Contact your dentist if the soreness prolongs.
Another complication people face in the early days is excessive saliva production. Your body may confuse the dentures with food and increase saliva production. However, this too should subside in a few days.
People new to dentures often complain about having difficulty speaking and eating as the dentures keep slipping. This is because a denture, unlike a natural tooth, is not anchored to your jaw but kept in place by your mouth’s muscles.
You have to give your mouth a few weeks to adjust. If the issue doesn’t disappear in a few weeks, request denture adhesive to secure dentures or ask your dentist to adjust the fit.
Dental surgeons may sometimes place an implant too close to a nerve, leading to nerve or tissue damage. Long-term effects include numbness, tingling, and mild to severe pain .
Improper care or lack of oral hygiene can damage the implants, which can lead to infection. Additionally, in rare conditions, your dental implants may protrude into the sinus cavity in your upper jawbone leading to sinusitis .
Dentures may cause discomfort and require some time for adjustment. In comparison, dental implants can cause internal damage in case of force, displacement, or poor care.
The main things you should consider when deciding between dental implants vs dentures include:
Avoid getting implants if you are 18 and under, as your jaw has not matured fully. However, adults with good health and sufficient bone density are fit for getting dental implants .
If you are a social person, dental implants might be the better choice since dentures can cause muffled or slurred speech.
Additionally, implants fit more naturally with the rest of your healthy natural teeth and are suitable for eating and chewing all sorts of food .
Consider the lifespan of each device, as implants offer a permanent solution, whereas dentures are better suited for temporary use.
Dentures can cause gum inflammation, dental stomatitis, and chronic mouth sores. On the other hand, implants help prevent and reverse such problems by promoting oral health.
Although cheaper, dentures are typically more high maintenance. Implants, in comparison, don’t require special cleaning or frequent replacement.
Many patients appreciate that Implants provide the most natural look to your existing teeth, unlike dentures, which can slip, discolor, or show while eating, speaking, and smiling.
Even though the price of implants is decreasing, they are more expensive than dentures upfront. However, once you add additional costs, including cleaning solutions, denture adhesive, regular checkups, and denture replacements, the cost rises.
In the long run, implants are a cheaper and hassle-free option for tooth loss.
Dental implants and dentures have different pros and cons. While dentures are more affordable upfront, implants are more natural-looking and durable.
Alternatives to dental implants and dentures include:
A dental bridge is used to fill a gap using one or more artificial teeth. It commonly consists of two parts; crowns (abutment teeth) on either side of the gap, and pontics (a false tooth or teeth).
Dental bridges are cemented in place and are generally made of metal, ceramics or porcelain fused to metal.
Flexible dentures are another type of partial denture, made of nylon or thin thermoplastics. They are suitable for people with oral irregularities, making regular dentures uncomfortable or painful to wear.
Snap-in dentures are attached to your jawbone through screw implants to hold the denture in place. This type of denture is more stable and versatile than traditional dentures.
If you don’t want to get the standard dentures or implants, you can try alternative options like dental bridges, flexible dentures, or implant-supported dentures.
Here are the most important things you need to know about dental implants vs dentures.
According to the dentist, implants are the superior choice because they require fewer appointments and you don’t have to worry about them falling out while laughing or talking. Additionally, implants also help preserve your oral health.
Implants have a longer lifespan than dentures. They are also stronger and help improve oral health, unlike dentures, which increase the risk of oral diseases. Also, implants look more like your natural teeth.
Despite their benefits, most people end up getting dentures over implants for a missing tooth. This is because dentures cost less upfront. Furthermore, not everyone is fit for dental implants. For example, people with diabetes, cancer, unhealthy jaw and gums, or a drug or smoking addiction are considered ill-fit for implants.
Basic dentures for both an upper and lower tooth may cost you $600–$1000. However, a dental implant for one missing tooth alone costs around $4000.
Besides affecting your self-esteem, missing teeth can have a huge impact on your overall health. When your gums are exposed, food and bacteria can easily get stuck in them, and if not removed properly, they can lead to infections. This is often followed by further tooth decay and gum disease, linked to both heart disease and diabetes [8, 9].
Your restoration options include dentures and implants. Both of them have their cosmetic and health benefits. However, implants are the safer option in the long run as they preserve bone. Still, dentures may be suitable for you for several other factors—general health, gum or jaw health, and age.