Despite advances in dental care, millions of Americans struggle with lost teeth due to oral disease, tooth decay, or accidents. If you’re one of the millions missing teeth, you have two options to restore your smile – dentures and dental implants.
Many people are familiar with dentures since the removable false teeth have been a popular tooth loss solution for decades. Dental implants are gaining in popularity because they offer a more permanent solution and several additional benefits.
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a replacement tooth root. It serves as an anchor for a replacement tooth, crown, or set of teeth. Dental implants are fused to the jawbone and then capped to resemble and act like your natural teeth.
What are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a permanent solution to missing teeth and an excellent option for restoring your smile. There are several benefits of dental implants as replacements for broken, chipped, or missing teeth. Some of those benefits include:
- They look and feel like your natural teeth.
- Dental implants are more comfortable than other options because they become a part of you.
- Eating and speaking are easier with dental implants than with the alternatives because they can’t slip and there are no limitations to the foods you can eat.
- Dental implants are more durable and convenient than other options.
Dental Implants vs. Dentures
When considering your tooth replacement options, you’ll want to be mindful of the main difference between dentures and implants: dentures are removable and dental implants are not.
The removable nature of dentures makes for an easier cleaning process and, quite frankly, it makes them the less expensive option when compared to implants. Dentures also lack the surgery requirement of dental implants. However, while dentures may mimic the look of your natural teeth, they don’t feel quite the same; it takes time to get used to them, especially when eating and speaking.
Dental implants look and feel more natural, and they even stimulate bone growth to preserve your facial structure. Maintenance includes the exact same brushing and flossing routine that occurs with natural teeth. While the pros of dental implants certainly add up, so can the costs. A dental implant procedure typically requires one or two invasive surgeries, making it the more expensive option for tooth replacement.
Due to modern technology there are plenty of options in between, including hybrid dentures and partial fixed dentures. We always recommend discussing your options with your dentist; only you and your dental team can make the decision that’s best for your lifestyle.
Interested in weighing the options with a dental care provider right away?
What Are The Benefits Of Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a permanent solution for broken, chipped, or missing teeth and they’re an excellent option for restoring your smile. The benefits of dental implants include:
- Keeping the look and feel of your natural teeth.
- Allowing more comfort than other options due to their nature.
- Easier eating and speaking function than with alternatives because dental implants can’t slip and require no limitations regarding the foods you can eat.
- More durability and convenience than other options.
What Are The Benefits Of Dentures?
As previously mentioned, dentures can take some getting used to. However, modern denture designs have been created with the consideration of patient comfort and the benefits of current dentures far outweigh the concerns that come to mind when you think of the teeth your grandmother may have worn. Some of the top reasons to opt for dentures include:
- While your dentist may suggest eating certain foods in moderation to preserve your dentures, restrictions on foods are far less stringent than in years’ past.
- Dentures offer great support for your facial structure, effectively keeping your features from sagging and preventing an unintentional aged appearance.
- Partial dentures allow the force exhibited during chewing to be distributed evenly across the mouth, which prevents excessive damage to your remaining teeth.
- Denture installation can be extremely cost effective, and modern dentures are available in material that creates a natural looking smile.
Read more: Lost a Filling? What To Do & Steps to Take
Who Can Benefit From Dental Implants?
If you are missing teeth, dental implants offer a more permanent solution than dentures by restoring your smile with replacements made of titanium and ceramic materials. However, for dental implants to set and heal properly in the mouth, good initial oral health is ideal. It is important to have adequate bone so that the base of the implant can anchor firmly into the jaw bone. Moreover, having healthy gum tissue that is free of periodontal disease allows dental implants to connect directly into the jaw bone and tissue.
How Dental Implants are Inserted:
- If you’re missing one tooth: the base of the dental implant is inserted into the jaw bone and a crown made to match your natural teeth is fastened into place.
- If you’re missing more than one tooth: multiple implants are supported by bridgework for as few as three units.
Several factors can influence whether or not a person is a candidate for implants, including severe gum disease, smoking, ability to regrow jaw bone, certain illnesses, metabolic health and certain medications. Schedule a visit with your dentist for a thorough assessment of your oral health and to determine the best course of treatment for your needs.
Why Would You Opt For Dentures Over Implants?
Cost effectiveness aside, there are circumstances when dentures are the better choice for maintaining your oral health. If you have unhealthy gums or a weak jaw, for example. Dental implants involve having screws installed into your gums, and if they are not in the healthiest state, the implants won’t stay in place. Dentures would be your best option in this case, as they offer the proper support for your new smile.
Another point to consider? Given that dental implants may require multiple surgical procedures, they aren’t the best option for those who suffer from any medical issues that would prevent surgery. This makes dentures more suitable for the elderly or those who may be severely ill.
Read more: Lost Crown? What To Do and Steps to Take
Types of Dental Implants
There are different options for dental implants depending on the number of teeth that are missing and your oral health. Your dentist can help you decide which option is best for you, but it’s a good idea to understand the differences beforehand.
These are the most common. They are a two-part process where metal implants are surgically inserted into the jawbone. Once the tissue around the implant heals, an artificial tooth or teeth is attached to the base.
These involve a metal frame placed under the gums but above the jawbone. The posts protrude from the gums providing a mount for the implants. This type of implant is most commonly used in patients who have a shallow jawbone.
Additionally, there is another choice that combines the concept of dental implants with dentures for a more stable fit. Implant-retained dentures, or implant-supported dentures involve thin metal attachments that are connected to your jawbone. They can either be bar-retained or ball-retained, but both involve the dentures attaching to the implants.
Types Of Dentures
It’s important to remember that your dentist will always attempt to conserve your original teeth. If they find that dentures are the best solution for your circumstance, you may feel overwhelmed with the variety of dentures available on the market. Each type of denture has a purpose and understanding their differences can help you make an informed decision about which options are best for you.
Traditional or conventional dentures are tailor made to provide optimal support for each patient’s mouth. They are kept in place by your gum and bone structure and require complete removal for proper cleaning.
Custom dentures allow patients to work with their dentist to design a confident, yet natural smile. A wide variety of options are presented to help patients form their perfect smile, including tooth shape, color, and translucence.
Overdentures are prosthetic teeth that involve jawbone support via the installation of implants. They may offer patients a better quality of life since they more closely resemble natural teeth and provide a familiar mouth feel in terms of eating and speaking. Overdentures typically fall into two main categories and can be permanent or removable based on each patient’s specific needs and budget.
As the name suggests, snap-in dentures are dentures that snap in place. They offer more stability than traditional dentures due to the installment of implants in the jawbone which keep them from slipping. When wearing snap-in dentures, patients will be advised to remove them each night, soak them in a special cleansing solution, and care for them with brushing and flossing maintenance just as they would with traditional dentures.
Another choice that combines the concept of dental implants with dentures for a more stable fit is implant-retained dentures or implant-supported dentures. They consist of thin metal attachments that are connected to your jawbone. They are either bar retained or ball retained, but both involve the attachment of dentures to the implants.
What is the Procedure for Dental Implants?
Before deciding to pursue dental implants, it helps to understand the process. It takes time to complete each step because of the healing involved. The course of treatment will vary from person to person, but this is a general idea of what to expect.
The process begins with a dental appointment. Your dentist will assess your oral health and discuss your options. Expect your dentist to conduct a thorough exam, including x-rays and creating impressions of your teeth and gums.
Of note, if you have a thinner jaw bone, your course of treatment may involve an extra step. Patients with thin jaw bones may need bone grafting to rebuild the jaw to make it strong enough to hold an implant.
First Appointment – The Dental Implant
The first appointment involves a surgical incision in the jaw to place the dental implant. Your dentist will stitch up the incisions so that the implant can integrate with your jaw bone. It can take several weeks to heal enough for the next step.
Follow-Up Appointment – Prepare the Implant
Once the initial incisions heal completely, your dentist will make a second incision to expose the implant and prepare the gum tissue to heal around the area. A temporary healing cap is placed on the implant so that the gum tissue will heal around the area.
Final Appointment – Secure the Cap or Crown
Finally, after the second incision heals, you will visit your dentist for the permanent cap or crown. Your dentist removes the temporary cap and places the new permanent one.
How to Care for Your New Dental Implants
Dental implants are designed to look, feel, and function just like your natural teeth. This means you’ll have to follow a good oral care routine and see your dentist twice a year for check-ups and professional cleanings. If you have pain or infection around your implant, contact your dentist immediately.
There are possible complications that can occur on occasion with dental implants. Implants can fail if an infection develops, if there is not enough bone in the jaw, if the bite of the jaw is misaligned, or due to extended pressure on the implant from activities like tooth grinding (bruxism) or clenching.
Maintenance Of Dentures VS Implants
Dentures require more maintenance than dental implants due to their removable nature. In order for patients to experience longevity with their dentures, daily maintenance involving soaking in a cleaning solution is required on top of a stringent brushing and flossing routine.
Dental implant maintenance mimics that of your natural teeth, requiring only a routine of brushing twice daily and flossing to ensure that implants are kept clean and free of plaque.
What is the Average Cost of Dental Implants?
How much do fake teeth cost? We understand that most people have to consider the cost at some point, and dental implants cost more than dentures and other restorative dental procedures. However, they also provide a more permanent solution.
On average, dental implants can cost up to several thousand dollars per tooth. There are differences based on a patient’s oral health and the area of the country where they live, but you can expect to pay between $3000 and $4500 dollars for one dental implant.
In many cases, insurance covers expenses, especially when tooth extractions are required. At Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics, we offer flexible financing and payment plans. You can also join our Dental Savings Plan for additional savings on procedures, including dental implants.
How To Choose Dentures VS Implants
Tooth replacement options depend on factors such as price and preference, however, the best decision will ultimately be based on the overall health and condition of your jawbone and remaining teeth. When discussing the current condition of your dental health with your provider, the following points will be addressed to determine if dentures or dental implants will best suit your needs.
Permanent dental work should only be considered when a patient’s teeth and jawbones have been fully developed. Therefore, young children and teenagers are not good candidates for dental implants. When it comes to adults, age alone shouldn’t be a deterrent for considering dental implants versus dentures. In fact, some seniors have made the switch to dental implants well into their later years.
The main difference between how dentures and dental implants function involves removal and maintenance, as dentures must be removed and soaked nightly on top of regular brushing and flossing. Dental implants are not removed and are maintained in the exact way as a patient’s natural teeth. It is important to note, however, that while dentures prove to be the more affordable option overall, they do not address the issue of jawbone deterioration, a problem that occurs when the jaw caves inward as the body absorbs minerals from the areas of missing teeth. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that prevents jawbone deterioration from occurring.
Amount of Missing Teeth
Patients may find dentures to be the best option if they intend to replace a larger amount of missing teeth. However, it is important to keep in mind that dentures typically need to be replaced every five to eight years. Dental implants are the only permanent solution for missing teeth and while the cost may be more expensive up front, having a permanent solution means less costs in the long run.
What Is The Average Cost Of Dentures?
Cost savings is one of the main reasons patients opt for dentures instead of dental implants, and it’s easy to see why. A complete set of basic dentures will cost between $600 and $1,500 dollars. That’s a difference of up to $3,000!
Either way, it’s always best to discuss your needs with your dental care provider. In many cases, insurance covers expenses, especially when tooth extractions are required. At Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics, we offer flexible financing and payment plans. You can also join our Dental Savings Plan for additional savings on procedures, including dental implants.
Dental Implant FAQs
No, we aren’t done yet. We know there are still some lingering questions about dental implants that we haven’t quite answered yet. Some of these FAQs may answer your burning questions.
Do You “Go Under” When You Get Dental Implants?
Since it is a surgical procedure, dental implants require anesthesia. The type of anesthesia is up to your dental team, but the goal is to help you relax and be as comfortable as possible during the procedure.
How Long Do Dental Implants Last?
The life of your dental implants depend heavily on how you care for them. Remember, they look and function much like real teeth, so you need to care for them as you would your real teeth. With proper care, dental implants can last for more than 25 years.
Are There Foods and Drinks to Avoid with Dental Implants?
During your healing process, you probably need to stick with soft foods for the first ten days to two weeks after each procedure. Once you’re all healed up, your dental implant should function like any other tooth. Keep in mind that some foods will stain your implant just like your natural teeth.
Still have questions? Feel free to reach out to our knowledgeable team at any of the Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics offices. We are here to help you get the smile you desire!