Dentures and dental implants both serve the same purpose – to replace missing teeth and make your life easier. These restorations restore your smile, prevent teeth from shifting, and restore functionality so you can chew and speak properly.
However, there are differences between the two procedures which can make or break your interest in them, from cost and length of treatment to invasiveness and durability. Read on in this blog from Brad Wisowaty, DDS to understand why implants are so different from dentures.
A dental implant is the replacement of a single tooth with a titanium post that is implanted into the jawbone, attached to an abutment, and finally, a dental crown or other restoration. Multiple implants can be placed to support larger restorations, and can even be used to replace a full arch of missing teeth. The implant process requires two oral surgeries – one to implant the post and another one to reopen the gums so the abutment can be attached.
While your recovery from these surgeries will be relatively fast and take no longer than a few days to 2 weeks, you will still need to wait 3 to 6 months for osseointegration to occur after the placement of the implant.
Pros: Osseointegration is when the implant becomes integrated with the jawbone over months, as the jawbone grows over the implant. This forms a stable artificial tooth root that will prevent the tooth from moving no matter how much you chew or speak.
It also prevents bone loss by stimulating the jawbone when you chew. Implants are made of durable titanium and last for 25 years to a lifetime with proper care. Speaking of care, dental implants are incredibly low maintenance.
You only need to brush and floss your implants as you would do with your natural teeth. An implant not only looks exactly like a real tooth, but it feels and functions just like one thanks to the artificial tooth root. You’re free to eat a restriction-free diet because your implant will never move and is highly strong and durable.
Cons: Despite the superiority of dental implants to other restorations in durability, lifespan, functionality, and convenience, it is a more invasive, time-consuming, and costly process. At a minimum, dental implants will require two oral surgeries. That’s assuming you don’t need any bone grafts to create additional bone support.
However, many people lack healthy or sufficient bone density to support dental implants, requiring them to get bone grafts to become eligible. That makes it 3 oral surgeries. It also takes a lot of patience, because the osseointegration process alone takes 3 to 6 months. After the placement of the abutment, your restoration won’t be ready for another 6 weeks. Implants are also significantly more expensive than dentures.
Dentures are removable replacements for missing teeth that come in partial or full dentures. Partial dentures replace just a few missing teeth in the mouth and hook onto your surrounding natural teeth with metal clasps.
Full dentures, on the other hand, replace all of the teeth in an arch and are only recommended for patients with extensive tooth loss because they require the extraction of your remaining teeth. Artificial teeth are attached to an acrylic gum-colored base. These removable teeth restore your smile, and ability to chew and speak clearly.
Pros: Dentures are convenient, accessible, and cost-effective. No matter how much bone loss you have, if you suffer from gum disease, or you’re missing almost all of your teeth, dentures will be a suitable option for you.
The entire process of designing, fabricating, and placing dentures is much speedier. Placing dentures is also non-invasive unless you need to extract any remaining teeth. Even accounting for this, dentures are much less invasive and time-consuming than dental implants.
It only takes a few weeks to fabricate and place your dentures. It should be no surprise that dentures are much cheaper than implants since they are made of more affordable materials and don’t require oral surgery.
Cons: While dentures may take less time, are potentially suitable for more patients, and cost less money, this is at the expense of quality and durability. Dentures are nowhere near as durable as dental implants and only have a lifespan of 7 to 10 years for full dentures or a maximum lifespan of 15 years for partial dentures.
Dentures often need to be replaced much sooner due to changes in your facial structure as a result of bone loss. Dentures cannot stop or prevent bone loss and they even accelerate it by placing pressure on your jawbone without providing stimulation.
This means you will deal with premature facial sagging. Dentures are also more high maintenance when it comes to cleaning and taking care of them. You need to remember to remove them each night and soak them in denture liquid. They need to be thoroughly scrubbed twice a day with specific cleaning solutions.
While dental implants and dentures both replace missing teeth and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, there’s no getting around the fact that dental implants are superior.
They will never move, and will preserve the existing jawbone, feel, look, and function like a real tooth. Plus, dental implants have the potential to last for a lifetime. However, not everyone is a good candidate for implants. If you’re one of these people, then dentures are a great alternative. The only way to find out which is right for you is to come in for a consultation.
Are you interested in dental implants to replace teeth over the long term? Contact us at Brad Wisowaty, DDS today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Brad. He will examine your oral health to determine if implants are right for you or if dentures would be more suitable.
"I am a dentist who loves being a dentist. No judging, no moral high horse. Just honest, quality dental care provided with passion."
– Dr. Brad Wisowaty