People needing to replace missing teeth largely have one of two options: dentures or implants.
Deciding between the two is a function of several factors: the health of the jawbone and those teeth that remain; preference and price. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so the first thing you have to do is have a conversation with your dentist.
First thing to know is, dentures and implants pretty much do the same thing:
- Help chew foods your previously would not have been able to eat
- Improve speech
- Increase self-confidence and minimize self-consciousness by giving you the freedom to smile
- Support your facial muscles
The two options may be similar in terms of function, but they differ in the quality with which they achieve their design-specific goals, among other things.
Procedure for implants vs. dentures
In order to get an implant, you need to have enough bone for the implants to be screwed into, before being capped by crowns. Implants have been growing in popularity according to a 2018 study, especially among people in the 55 to 64 age bracket. The process starts off with removing a damaged root, and then drilling into the jawbone. A post, which is a metal prosthetic root, is then implanted into the bone, before being fitted with a crown, but only after bone has started to grow around the implant. It may take several months before the post is ready to be fitted with an abutment, the thing to which a crown is fitted. Finally, a crown mathiching surrounding teeth is fitted to the abutment.
Dentures are a little bit more old school, being detachable prosthetic teeth that can be fitted into your mouth whatever the state of your jawbone. They can either be made to replace a complete set of teeth, or made to replace just a few teeth.
They are made by taking an impression of the lower or upper gums or both, if need be.
Your dentist will, before making the dentures, study your bile and the alignment of your jaws, to ensure that the length of the dentures is optimal for chewing and speaking.
Afterwards, when a preliminary set of dentures has been made, you will be asked to try them on so that any further adjustments can be made. They, like implants, are made to look as natural as possible. They are fitted into your gums using a special adhesive.
Cost of implants vs. dentures
Dental implants are, as you can deduce, pricier than denture.
The American Dental Association (ADA) estimates that the typical implant will cost $1,600 and $2,200 per tooth, compared to a $1,600 average cost of dentures for the lower or upper jaw.
Maintenance of implants vs. dentures
Dental implants do not differ markedly from normal teeth in terms of standard dental hygiene practices, though this assumes you receive quality implant dentistry. Dentures, on the other hand, require more extensive daily maintenance for them to remain viable over time. For example, you have to take them off before you go to bed, allowing them to soak in water or a cleaning solution. Furthermore, they must be removed before you can clean them and you may need to brush away bits of adhesive that remain on your gums.
Lastly, because your bite evolves over time, you will need to refit your dentures every so often. Dental implants, however, are essentially permanent and only need replacement if the crown cracks or breaks.