Adult tooth loss can be frustrating, inconvenient, and even embarrassing. However, if you have missing teeth, you are not alone. The American College of Prosthodontists reports that 178 million adults in the United States have at least one missing tooth, while an estimated 40 million have lost all their teeth.
Luckily, modern dental technologies allow dentists to offer you multiple options for tooth replacement so you can pick the right technique for your smile. In this blog, we compare characteristics of dentures and dental implants to give you a better idea of which solution you may prefer.
Some patients assume that dental implants offer a better-looking smile, but this idea doesn’t always hold true. While dental implants can appear almost identical to the color and shape of your other teeth, modern dentures look more natural than ever before. Additionally, dentures do more to reduce the “collapsed” look of the cheek and chin found in some patients with many missing teeth than dental implants do.
Both options can fill the gap of a missing tooth and offer an aesthetically pleasing replacement.
Often, the choice between dentures and dental implants comes down to the health of your jaw bone and oral tissues. Dentures can accommodate a much wider range of oral health symptoms and can even help conceal some of the issues that might disqualify a patient from receiving dental implants.
In order to be a candidate for dental implants, you must have adequate jaw bone density for each implant to anchor to. You must also exhibit good general health because the implant process can take a significant amount of time and may expose individuals with weak immune systems to a high risk of infection.
Dentures, on the other hand, require healthy gum tissues but do not necessarily need jaw bone strength to be fitted and worn comfortably.
When you invest in tooth replacement, you’re safeguarding your ability to smile, eat, and speak normally. Any tooth replacement option comes at a cost. The primary difference between the cost of dentures and dental implants is that more insurance companies are willing to cover most or all of the cost of dentures.
While some insurance companies will cover a portion of the cost for dental implants, many do not cover any of the expense. Because of this difference in coverage, dentures are often a more cost-effective option for patients with extensive tooth loss and implants may be more affordable for individuals with only one or two missing teeth.
When it comes to durability, dental implants last longer. With proper care, high-quality implants can last for the rest of your life. Even if the visible crown portion of the implant becomes damaged, it’s unlikely that your dentist will ever need to do work on the anchor portion of the implant.
Dentures generally last between five and eight years. Often, dentures need replacement, not because of the damage the appliance sustains, but rather due to changes in the shape and health of the patient’s oral tissues.
Typically, dental implants provide a more secure eating surface than dentures do. Because implants are placed permanently, they shift less often and less dramatically than dentures can.
However, patients with high-quality dentures can use them for most of the activities that they would use natural teeth for. Patients may need to try multiple adhesives or have the fit of their dentures adjusted to improve functionality while they wear dentures.
In both cases, patients should be wary of particularly hard or sticky foods. These foods could damage the surface of the false teeth or encourage tooth decay in the patient’s remaining natural teeth.
As discussed in the cost section, dentures are often preferred for patients with many missing teeth and dental implants for individuals who are only missing a few. However, both tooth replacement options can be used to replace any number of missing teeth.
If you prefer dentures but only have one or two gaps, you’ll be fitted with a partial denture. Partial dentures consist of high-quality false teeth attached to a base that fits over the roof or floor of the mouth. Partial dentures are similar to retainers used by orthodontists to keep teeth aligned after treatment with braces.
If you prefer dental implants and have a large amount of tooth loss, the initial process may take longer, but the final result is essentially the same as placing a single dental implant.
As you consider your tooth replacement options, consult with your dentist. While you can identify some factors in this decision, you’ll need an oral health care professional’s insight to determine whether you’re a good candidate for your chosen tooth replacement option.