Dentures vs Implants
Dentures and dental implants are both commonly used to fill the gap caused when one or more teeth are missing. They are intended to restore both the function and appearance of the missing tooth, restoring your smile and your ability to chew confidently. Whether dentures or implants are right for you depends on your individual situation; there are both benefits and disadvantages to both method.
Both dentures and implants are types of artificial teeth. Dentures are a complete set of artificial teeth made of materials such as acrylic, plastic, or porcelain, intended to replace most or all of the teeth in either the lower or upper jaw. Dental implants consist of a titanium screw inserted into the jawbone to anchor a single artificial tooth in place. Dentures are primarily used to replace multiple missing teeth. Meanwhile, dental implants are generally used to replace one or two missing teeth.
Dentures are a set of removable false teeth that sit on top of the gums, held with adhesive onto the gums. This is the traditional way to solve the problem of missing teeth. However, they are uncomfortable, even with recent advances that have enables dentists to better fit the dentures to each patient’s mouth. They must be secured with adhesive, but still have a tendency to slip while eating or talking, making such activities difficult. Despite their downsides, however, dentures may be the best option for those who have weak gums or who have worn down the bone in their jaw, which makes anchoring a dental implant difficult.
Dental implants are anchored not to the gums, but to the underlying bone in the jaw. The surgical procedure to insert a dental implant can be time-consuming, and the procedure itself makes dental implants a poor choice for some patients, such as those with a diminished healing capacity or those concerned about healing time, pain, or the idea of oral surgery.
Once dental implants are inserted, they look very similar to a natural tooth. Meanwhile, dentures look less realistic when viewed up-close. As a result, dental implants are often preferred when replacing teeth in the front of the mouth. Dentures and dental implants also differ in chewing function. Implants are stronger and tend to be easier to chew with than dentures.
Dental implants are permanent; while the crown atop the implant may need to be replaced from time to time, the implant itself, anchored to the bone, is permanent. Meanwhile, dentures must be removed frequently for cleaning, and will need to be replaced occasionally over the patient’s lifetime. Dentures also carry the risk of wearing down the surrounding gums, bone, and teeth, while implants better preserve the surrounding tissues.
Finally, there are cost considerations. The procedure to insert a dental implant tends to be more expensive than the process of getting dentures, especially if you have multiple teeth missing. Many patients with multiple missing teeth opt for dentures, while a dental implant is preferred to replace one or two missing teeth. While dental implants do have a higher up-front cost, they may be less expensive over the long term, when expenses such as adhesives, cleaning solutions, and replacement dentures are considered.