Throughout our lives, many things can cause you to lose your teeth. From accidents to illness, to simply aging, nearly all of us eventually face an important decision: how do I replace the tooth or teeth I’ve lost?
If you’re looking to replace one or more of your teeth, you have two primary options available to you: dentures and dental implants.
At first glance, making this choice can seem overwhelming. After all, it isn’t like a regular product where you can simply take it back and replace it if you don’t like it. Before making a final decision, you have to consider several factors, like personal preference, price, your remaining teeth, and even your existing jaw health.
In this article, we’ll go over the pros and cons of both dentures and dental implants, explain the differences between them, and help you make your choice.
Here’s our take on dental implants vs dentures:
Dental Implants Vs. Dentures: Do I Need Either?
Before you start deciding between dentures and dental implants, you should first make sure you need (or want) them. It’s important to understand the procedures of each one as well so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Dental implants and dentures each have their own unique procedures, advantages, and disadvantages. You’ll want to discuss all of the details you find in this article with your dentist. With professional advice, you may even decide neither are for you and you want something like dental bridges instead. It’s in your best interest to be as informed as possible.
What are they used for?
Dental Implants and Dentures are used for essentially the same purposes. Things like:
- They help you chew tough foods you otherwise couldn’t
- They support your facial muscles
- They improve self-esteem and help decrease feelings of self-consciousness
- They improve your ability to speak and form certain syllables
Despite their similar uses, though, there are also significant differences between the two. Here are the ones you should be aware of:
Cost of Dental Implants Vs. Dentures
Between the two, implants are the more expensive option. Prices will vary depending on your dental office, location, and other factors, but you can generally expect implants to cost between $1,600 and $2,200 per tooth according to the American Dental Association (ADA).
Dentures are harder to maintain, but they are much easier on your wallet. Instead of being charged per tooth, they are charged per unit. For reference, an upper or lower set is a single unit, while a full set (both upper and lower) is considered two units.
For one unit, the ADA suggests that the cost ranges around $1,600, regardless of whether it is upper or lower.
Procedure for Implants Vs. Dentures
Dental implants are screw-like attachments that resemble teeth. They require enough remaining bone to securely attach to, otherwise you risk them falling out. Their popularity has also soared in recent years, nearly surpassing dentures among adults 55 to 64.
The implant procedure begins with removing your tooth’s damaged root. Once it’s gone, your dentist drills a hole into your jawbone where the implant will sit.
The implant itself is made of three distinct parts: the post, the abutment, and the crown. The post is a metal piece that screws into your jaw bone. The abutment is a piece that sits on top of the post, and the crown is built around the abutment and made to match your existing teeth.
Once the hole is drilled, the post is screwed into the bone. Then, depending on your dentist, the abutment may go ahead and install the abutment, or they may wait until you’ve healed first. Regardless, your bone has to heal around the post before the crown itself is installed.
Depending on how you heal and how your body reacts to the procedure, it could be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before you’re ready to have the crown fixed on. This is by far the biggest disadvantage to implants, as you will temporarily have an empty socket where the crown will be.
Unlike implants, dentures are both removable and available regardless of how much bone is present. They are made to fit your mouth specifically, and can be created for entire mouths or small sections of your mouth where teeth are missing. They are made to look like real teeth and are bonded to your gums using a temporary adhesive you will apply every time you put them in.
Dentures are created by first taking an impression of the inside of your mouth using a nontoxic material called alginate. They may just do impressions of either the top or bottom of your mouth if you only need a partial set, or they could take a full impression panel for a full set.
Once your dentist has the impressions, they will look at your bite and jaw alignment to determine the best length for your dentures so your chewing and speech are minimally affected.
After that, your dentist will put in an order for a preliminary set of dentures to be made. Once they receive the order, they’ll put them in your mouth and check to see if they need any adjustments or extra alignment. Then, a final set will be made and you’ll be sent on your way!
While dental implants and dentures serve similar purposes, they certainly have their own advantages and disadvantages. Implants, for example, risk infection and mechanical issues. Dentures, however, are gentler and only really pose the risk of ulcers on the gums or coming loose at bad times.
Regardless, there are many things to consider when choosing your dental hardware. Your age, preference on function and feel, and hygiene all play a role in how well you’ll adapt to either one.
As such, we urge you to look carefully at your options, consult your local dentist, and consider your priorities so you can be confident in your decision.