Millions of Americans suffer tooth loss. An estimated 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and roughly 40 million Americans are missing all their teeth. The most common causes of tooth loss are tooth decay, periodontal disease (gum disease) or injury. In adults, 70 percent of tooth loss is caused by gum disease. Missing teeth can affect the esthetics of your face, make it more difficult to chew your food, talk, and weigh emotionally on some. Many people feel less confident about their smile when they are missing teeth.
If you are missing teeth, dentures and implants are viable options for you.
Dentures or false teeth are synthetic replacements for missing natural teeth. Some dentures are designed to replace a few missing teeth or can replace all teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues. There are two types of dentures – complete and partial.
Complete (full) dentures are meant to replace all teeth and are removed nightly. There are three types of removable complete dentures – conventional, immediate and implant-retained. Conventional dentures are made after the teeth have been removed and the gums have healed. This type of complete denture can be placed about six to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed, but the patient is without teeth for that time. An immediate complete denture is made prior to teeth extraction and is placed immediately after teeth have been removed. Although the patient goes home with teeth, bones and gums shrink over time and this type of complete denture requires more adjustments to fit properly during the healing process. An immediate complete denture should only be considered a temporary solution until the conventional complete denture can be made. Implant-retained dentures (overdentures) click into place and latch onto the metal posts of implants, also known as abutments. This type of complete denture increases stability and improves chewing function better than the conventional or immediate denture option.
Complete dentures should be the last option after all other tooth restorations are decided to be ineffective by you and your dentist.
Partial dentures are used when one ore more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw and can be fixed or removable. There are a few options when it comes to fixed partial dentures. Implant-supported bridge is one fixed option and uses implants as abutments. This type of partial denture replaces a few missing teeth in a row with two dental implants. Tooth-supported fixed bridge, is another fixed partial denture option, grinds away healthy adjacent teeth that are used to attach and support the bridge. Resin-bonded bridge, the last option for a fixed partial denture, is also known as a Maryland Bridge. This type of denture has wings on each side of the artificial tooth to attach to healthy, adjacent teeth but usually doesn’t involve preparing, or grinding down those adjacent teeth. This option only works well for front teeth that don’t endure the biting and chewing that back teeth do.
Removable partial dentures can either be cast or acrylic. Cast are made of tissue colored acrylic (gums), replacement teeth, and a metal framework that holds all the materials together. Acrylic or “flippers,” are made of acrylic resin and mimic the look and function of natural teeth. They come with or without clasps of shaped wire. Acrylic false teeth are temporary because a patient’s gums entirely support the teeth.
Dentures are not for everyone but could be the best choice for individuals whose gums and jaw are weak or unhealthy.
Dental implants are artificial roots made from titanium rods or screws that are fused to your jawbone and bond with your natural bone. These rods or screws serve as a base for a permanent tooth replacement – crown – that mimic the look and feel of a natural tooth and serve as a sturdy base for supporting one or more artificial teeth. Once the screw or rod is placed, a connector – abutment – is placed on top of the dental implant to hold and support your crown which is custom-made to match your natural teeth and fit your mouth functionally and esthetically. Dental implants are the only dental restoration option that preserves natural bone and helps to stimulate bone growth.
Dentures vs. Implants: A Comparison
Dentures are not permanent whereas implants are permanent and look, feel and act like your own teeth.
Dentures, specifically poor-fitting ones, slip in the mouth causing you to mumble or slur your words. Implants don’t slip because they are permanent which allows you to speak normal without the worry of your teeth slipping.
Dentures tend to be less comfortable because they are removable. Common complaints with dentures include bulkiness, excessive saliva, soreness and irritation. Implants are more comfortable because they become part of you by fusing to your jawbone. Because of this, dental implants feel natural and fit well in your mouth.
Dentures are known to slide and can make it difficult to chew. Dental implants work like your own teeth allowing you to eat your favorite foods without pain or difficulty.
Both dentures and dental implants restore your smile and help you feel better about yourself. Dental implants look more natural compared to dentures, but if your denture is done correctly most people aren’t able to tell the difference.
Dentures typically need to be replaced every five to eight years. Dental implants, if taken care of, can last as long as natural teeth.
Dentures are removable therefore less convenient. Dental implants are permanent and get rid of the embarrassing inconvenience of removing dentures and dealing with the messy adhesives that dentures require.
The price of dental implants varies, depending on how many additional procedures you need to undergo. It is possible that your insurance will pay up to 50% of the cost of your dentures, whereas dental implants are much less likely to be covered under your dental insurance plan. However, given that dentures tend not to last as long, you should factor in the expense associated with replacing them. This alone could make dentures more expensive than dental implants in the long run.
So, Dentures or Implants?
It is important to consult with your dentist before you decide on dentures or implants because each case is different. If you are missing a tooth or multiple teeth, Roseman Dental can help. Contact us today.