Dentures vs. Dental Implants: Weighing the Pros and Cons

As we grow older we find ourselves in need of replacing one or more missing teeth. If this is something you have been dealing with there are a few options, you can speak with your dentist about including dentures and implants.

Choosing between these two options depends on a few factors, such as preference, the health of your jawbone and remaining teeth and price. Dentures and dental implants each have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to discuss the different options with your dentist. Dentures and implants basically serve the same purpose. They help you chew tough foods, support your facial muscles, helps improve your speech and can help increase your self- esteem by giving you your smile back.

There are also some important differences between implants and dentures. As a dentist specializing in dental implants here are some of the pros and cons of dentures and dental implants you should consider before deciding which is best for you.

Cost of dentures and implants

Dental implants will cost you more than getting a set of dentures. Though prices vary based on your location, the American Dental Association reports that an implant can cost between $1,600 and $2,200 dollars per tooth. 

The cost of dentures is much lower even if you are getting both upper and lower sets. The ADA suggests the cost of a set of upper dentures to be on average around $1,600 with a complete set of lower dentures costing about the same.

Procedure for dental implants and dentures

Dental implants require bone to place screwlike implants that are then capped with crowns. An implant is made by extracting a damaged root and drilling a hole into the jawbone. A metal root, called a post, is implanted into the bone. The top of the post is then fitted with a crown, but not until the bone has begun to heal around the post securing it in position. 

It can take up to a few months before the post is ready to be attached with the abutment, the piece of the implant that the crown is fitted on. The final step of the procedure is fitting a crown, an artificial tooth, to match the teeth already in place.

The procedure for dentures is much less invasive. Most dentures can be fitted to your mouth regardless of bone density in your jaw. Dentures can be complete sets, upper and lower, or be made to replace only a few missing teeth.

The procedure for creating dentures begins by making an impression of the upper or lower gums. Before creating the dentures, your dentist will also observe your bite and the alignment of your upper and lower jaws. This allows the dentist to ensure the length of the dentures will allow for proper chewing and help with speech. 

A first set of dentures are then made and the dentist will use this set to see if any adjustments are needed. Lastly, a final set of dentures are made for the patient. 

Maintaining dentures and dental implants

More maintenance is required for dentures than dental implants. Dentures should not be worn overnight, and they need to be soaked in water or a cleaning solution during that time. When cleaning dentures, which should be done daily, remove them after meals and brush them. You may also need to brush off any adhesive that sticks to your gums after removing the dentures. 

Dental implants are treated just like natural teeth. This means brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing and having regular dental checks. 

For overall maintenance of dentures, you will need to be refitted from time to time because as you age your bite will change. Dental implants may require the replacement of crowns if they become cracked.

Complications from dental implants and dentures

Dental implants are usually safe and efficient in solving your teeth issues. However, some complications may arise such as infections, cracked crowns and loose posts. Implant failures only occur in 5 to 10 percent of patients.

Dentures most common complications include becoming loose, not staying in place and sores or ulcers forming on the gums.

Even though dental implants are more expensive they can last up to 20 years with regular maintenance. Dentures will often require adjustments and replacements over the years.

Look carefully at your options to replace your teeth and consider what you want in the long run when it comes to your abilities to chew, speak and smile. When making a decision between dentures and dental implants, always consult your dentist.

Dr. Edward Harsini is the owner of Smile Dental Clinics in Phoenix, Ariz. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Dental School in 1998. He is certified by UCLA Aesthetic Continuum, the 3M Imtec Mini Dental Implants and GRU/AAID Maxi-Course Implant Dentistry.

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