Dentures vs. Implants: Here's Everything You Need to Know

Dentures vs. Implants: What’s the Best Way To Restore My Smile?

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.

 

Key Takeaways: Dental Implant vs Dentures

  • 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.

 

What Are Dentures?

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

 

Different parts of a complete dentures

 

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:

  • Artificial teeth: Although artificial, a good set will feature very realistic-looking teeth that function similarly to natural teeth.
  • Denture base: This part is the foundation for the artificial teeth and helps restore defective oral hard and soft tissues.

 

Partial Dentures

 

Two examples of partial 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 [1].

 

How Do Dentures Work?

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.

 

Pros of Dentures

  • Removable.
  • Designed specifically for your mouth.
  • You can request a new pair if your jaw bone changes over time.
  • Supports your facial muscles, reducing sagging in the face [2].
  • An affordable option for tooth loss as opposed to dental implants.

Cons of Dentures

  • Unlike implants, dentures, especially of the lower jaw, might not look like your natural teeth.
  • Not all dentures are a perfect fit, and they might slip around and make speaking and chewing difficult.
  • Ill-fitting dentures can lead to bone loss [3].
  • You can’t wear dentures overnight.
  • You can’t eat certain foods with dentures, such as apples, caramel, and corn on the cob.
  • Dentures can be delicate and vulnerable to breakage.
  • Requires frequent replacement, generally every 3–6 years, depending on quality.
  • May weaken your remaining teeth.

Summary

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.

 

What Are Dental Implants?

 

2 examples of denture implants

 

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.

 

How Do Dental Implants Work?

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.

 

Pros of Dental Implants

  • Unlike dentures, dental implants look just like your regular teeth.
  • Dental implants maintain your facial structure.
  • Implants are completely fixed, so you don’t have to worry about any discomfort, slurred speech, or difficulty eating.
  • Implants are extremely durable, and with proper care, they may last as long as your regular teeth.
  • Choosing dental implants enhances chewing ability and improves long-term oral health.
  • Implants are very convenient, without messy removals and adhesives to hold them in place.
  • Can prevent bone loss from occurring.
  • Can prevent gum disease that has been linked to both heart disease and diabetes [8][9].

Cons of Dental Implants

  • Implants are expensive, with a single implant costing $3000–$4000.
  • A dental implant is an invasive process that may take several months to heal completely.
  • Requires sufficient bone density for a successful procedure.

Summary

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.

 

Dentures vs. Implants: How To Choose?

There are significant differences between the two dental treatments for replacing missing teeth that you should consider before making a decision, such as:

 

dentures vs implants: how to choose

 

  • Cost. 
  • Procedure.
  • Maintenance.
  • Durability.
  • Complications.

 

Cost of Dentures vs. Implants

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.

 

Insurance Coverage

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.

Summary

Implants are expensive and not covered by insurance. However, although not as comfortable, dentures are relatively cheap and often covered by dental insurance.

 

Procedure of Getting Dentures vs Implants

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.

Summary

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.

 

Maintenance of Dentures vs. Implants

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.

Summary

Implants are easier to maintain than dentures and you’re at less risk of developing a mouth or gum disease.

 

Durability of Dentures vs. Implants

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.

Summary

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.

 

Complications of Dentures vs. Implants

There are certain complications associated with the use of both dentures and implants.

 

Denture Complications

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 Implant Complications

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 [4].

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 [5].

Summary

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.

 

What To Consider When Deciding Between Dentures vs. Implants

The main things you should consider when deciding between dental implants vs dentures include:

  • Age.
  • Function.
  • Life span.
  • Oral health.
  • Hygiene.
  • Appearance.
  • Cost.

 

Age

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 [6].

 

Function

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 [7].

 

Life Span

Consider the lifespan of each device, as implants offer a permanent solution, whereas dentures are better suited for temporary use. 

 

Oral Health

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.

 

Hygiene

Although cheaper, dentures are typically more high maintenance. Implants, in comparison, don’t require special cleaning or frequent replacement.

 

Appearance

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.

 

Cost

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.

Summary

Dental implants and dentures have different pros and cons. While dentures are more affordable upfront, implants are more natural-looking and durable.

 

Alternatives to Dentures and Implants

Alternatives to dental implants and dentures include:

 

Three Alternatives to Dentures and Implants

 

  • Dental bridges.
  • Flexible dentures.
  • Snap-in dentures.

 

Dental Bridges

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

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

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.

Summary

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.

 

FAQ

Here are the most important things you need to know about dental implants vs dentures.

 

Is It Better To Get Implants or Dentures?

What Are the Advantages of Implants Over Dentures?

Why Do People Get Dentures and Not Implants?

What Is the Cost Difference Between Dentures and Implants?

 

Conclusion

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.

 

References:

  1. Aly Sadek, Sherif, et al. “Comparative Study Clarifying the Most Suitable Material to Be Used as Partial Denture Clasps.” Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences, Republic of Macedonia, 7 June 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6026407/.
  2. Martone, Alexander L. “Effects of Complete Dentures on Facial Esthetics.” The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, Mosby, 15 Sept. 2006, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0022391364900848.
  3. Bilhan, Hakan, et al. “Complication Rates and Patient Satisfaction with Removable Dentures.” The Journal of Advanced Prosthodontics, The Korean Academy of Prosthodontics, May 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3381202/.
  4. Hanif, Ayesha, et al. “Complications in Implant Dentistry.” European Journal of Dentistry, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5379828/.
  5. Dutta, Shubha Ranjan, et al. “Risks and Complications Associated with Dental Implant Failure: Critical Update.” National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery, Wolters Kluwer - Medknow, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7518499/.
  6. Shah, Rohit A, et al. “Implants in Adolescents.” Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, July 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3800426/.
  7. Kutkut A; Bertoli E; Frazer R; Pinto-Sinai G; Fuentealba Hidalgo R;Studts J; “A Systematic Review of Studies Comparing Conventional Complete Denture and Implant Retained Overdenture.” Journal of Prosthodontic Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28666845/.
  8. Dhadse, Prasad, et al. “The Link between Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Disease: How Far We Have Come in Last Two Decades ?” Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Medknow Publications, July 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3100856/.
  9. Preshaw, P M, et al. “Periodontitis and Diabetes: A Two-Way Relationship.” Diabetologia, Springer-Verlag, Jan. 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228943/

 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

17 − 1 =