Dental Implants vs. Dentures
Tooth loss is a very real and debilitating problem affecting as many as 70% of adults living in the United States. There are lots of reasons why you may have lost a tooth, but decay and damage are the two primary causes of tooth loss or extraction.
Maintaining a functional and attractive smile may seem impossible when you have lost one or more teeth. Fortunately, there are more tooth replacement solutions available than ever before, giving you the choice of how you wish to restore the use and appearance of your smile. Two of the most popular solutions are dental implants and dentures. Which is right for you? To help you choose, here’s some important information about both of these effective tooth replacement treatments.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are artificial teeth that are surgically implanted into your mouth and represent a permanent solution for missing teeth. The main element of their design is a titanium post or screw. This replaces the natural tooth root and acts in the same way – stimulating the bone in the jaw so that it remains strong and healthy, and acting as a supporting structure for the visible part of your solution, which comes in the form of a porcelain crown. This crown is custom-designed specifically to fill the gap that you have in your smile, and will be made in the perfect size, shape and color so that it looks entirely natural.
The placement of each dental implant post is pre-determined using a series of assessments of your jaw, first to check that dental implants are a viable solution, and secondly to plan your treatment to ensure that the post won’t affect any significant nerves or other structures within the jaw. Once the post has been placed, the bone in the jaw will regenerate and heal around it to cement it permanently in place. Once this has happened – which can take several months – your bespoke crown can be secured to it, completing the restoration.
Dental implants can be used to replace a single missing tooth, or to support a bridge or denture. The number of implant posts needed will vary depending on the type of restoration that you choose.
What are dentures?
Dentures are one of the most traditional forms of tooth replacement and are used to restore the function and look of your smile when you have multiple missing teeth. In dentures, a set of bespoke, artificial teeth are created and placed into an acrylic flesh-colored mold. This mold is then worn over the top of the gums and is secured to them special denture adhesive. You wear your dentures during the day, then remove them at night so that you can clean them.
Dentures can be made to replace a full arch of missing teeth or a partial arch. Full arches for the top teeth include a special plate that sits across the roof of your mouth and gives the device added stability. Meanwhile a full denture for the bottom arch will be horseshoe shaped so that there is no interruption to the use of your tongue.
Comparison of key elements of dental implants and dentures
To help you decide which is right for you, here is a quick comparison of some of the key elements of wearing dental implants and dentures.
Convenience: Dental implants are permanent, which means that you don’t need to worry about taking them out to look after them. You can also eat and drink whatever you would like without being concerned that your teeth might come loose.
Stability: Since dental implants are secured directly to the jawbone, they are proven to be more stable than dentures which rely on adhesive to keep them in place.
Cleaning: Dentures need to be removed for cleaning. This involves both brushing them manually with a toothbrush and toothpaste, but also soaking them overnight in water that also contains a cleaning solution. Dentures are quite fragile so must be handled with care. Meanwhile, dental implants can be brushed and flossed just like regular teeth.
Comfort: Modern dentures are much more comfortable than their predecessors. However, many patients still find that dental implants feel more natural and comfortable since there is nothing that can rub on the gum and cause irritation.
Durability: Provided you handle them with care, your dentures could last you for up to ten years. However, they may need maintenance from time to time and if the shape of your jaw changes, as is often the case after tooth loss, you may need a new denture created. However, dental implants require far less maintenance and could last as long as 25 years provided they are properly looked after.
If you would like more information about either dental implants or dentures, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss these solutions with our expert dental team, please contact our offices.