The goal of modern dentistry is for each & every patient to keep all their teeth for their entire lifetime. As dental health awareness & dental technology have advanced over the last half century, we now see fewer older people who are missing all their teeth (a condition dentists call edentulism). Still, we find that people may loose a tooth or a few & not think much of it. The reality is that a missing tooth is far more than just a gap in your smile: it can have serious oral health & psychological effects down the line. Read more
Whether you’ve lost teeth to decay, periodontal disease or an accident, we know that having a missing tooth can be embarrassing, inconvenient & often very uncomfortable. Luckily, there are many options for restoring your teeth, but with so many options, there is also some confusion. In this post we’re going to break down the choice between dentures & dental implants for replacing missing teeth.
What Are Dentures?
Dentures are a set of false teeth that fit over the gums (full dentures) or clip into place on existing teeth (partial dentures). You can get dentures for your upper teeth, your lower teeth, or both. Dentures also have a gum-colored acrylic base that can be matched to the color of your actual gums to look natural.
Pros of Dentures
- Dentures are less expensive than implants, usually ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on quality.
- Getting dentures is a fairly quick & painless process that doesn’t involve surgery.
- Dentures are covered by most dental insurance plans.
- Dentures can restore a more youthful look to your face by supporting lips & cheeks & fixing the sunken look created by tooth loss.
Cons of Dentures
- Bone loss over time causes dentures to eventually stop fitting properly. Dentures will need to be adjusted or replaced.
- Dentures need to be removed & cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis.
- Dentures need to be removed at night to give the gums time to rest.
- Dentures can often slip out of place, causing problems when eating or speaking.
- Food can get caught under dentures causing discomfort & potential for infections.
- People with dentures have to avoid eating many foods, leading to a less satisfying & nutritious diet.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are an artificial tooth root made from a titanium metal post. The implant is inserted into the bone of the jaw under the gums, where it can act as the foundation for an artificial tooth, called a crown, to be permanently attached with a dental cement. Dental implants have ridges on them that make them resemble screws. The purpose of these ridges is actually to give the bone of your jaw more surface area to hold onto & grow around, a process called osseointegration. Once in place, dental implants & crowns are nearly indistinguishable from natural teeth & function just like them too.
Pros of Dental Implants
- Presence of the implant allows the pressure of chewing & biting to be transferred into your bone, promotion bone growth. Without this pressure, such as with dentures, bone loss begins to occur.
- People with dental implants can eat essentially anything that someone with natural teeth can eat. There are not dietary restrictions.
- Dental implants are permanent & can be cleaned easily with brushing & flossing just like natural teeth.
- Dental implants are permanent & can last a lifetime, meaning less cost for maintenance into the future.
- Dental implants can also restore a more youthful look to your face by supporting your lips & cheeks just as natural teeth would.
Cons of Dental Implants
- Dental implants cost more than dentures, usually a few thousand for each individual implant & crown.
- Dental implants involve oral surgery & some minimal post-operative discomfort.
- Dental implants sometimes involve several months of healing time before the treatment is complete (3-6 months between implant placement & final crown placement).
- Implants are sometimes considered a cosmetic procedure & not medically necessary by insurance companies & are therefore not covered by some dental plans.
Ultimately, most dentists will strongly encourage the use of implants for replacing missing teeth. Dentists know that dental implants are the best choice for both your oral health & your comfort. As much as we think about teeth on a daily basis, we don’t want you to have to think of yours constantly! Once a patient’s implants are placed & healed, they can return to a life with a fully functional smile.
Like any dental procedure, your choice of which treatment to undergo & the results you can expect all depend in your individual dental condition. When we make a recommendation of treatment for replacing missing teeth, we take your current oral health, your health history, your ultimate goals & your financial preferences into account. If you’re interested in either dentures or dental implants, please arrange a consultation with us.