Dentures Versus Implants: What to Consider
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 5% of adults aged between 20 and 64 have no teeth. Missing teeth can leave you feeling self-conscious about your smile. They also make natural tasks like speaking and eating harder.
Left untreated, missing teeth can create a sunken-in appearance that affects your facial profile. Fortunately, thanks to dental advancements, there are several solutions to treating missing teeth and this article focuses on two popular options, dentures versus dental implants, and what you need to consider with both.
Dentures are fake teeth used to replace missing teeth, regardless of the amount of bone structure present. Today, dentures are more natural-looking and comfortable to wear.
The procedure: The dentist takes an impression of your upper and lower jaws. They also take a bite registration – a record of the way your teeth meet – to make sure that the denture is fabricated in a way that conforms to the patient’s natural bite. A ‘try-in’ stage is possible, where the teeth are set in wax so that you can point out any adjustments needed. Once satisfied with the dentures, the final set is made.
A dental implant is a surgical fixture set in the jawbone to provide a strong foundation for permanent replacement teeth.
The procedure: The process of getting dental implants starts with the extraction of a damaged root. Next, the dentist drills a small hole where the tooth is missing before installing a metal prosthetic root known as an implant.
The implant is fitted with a healing cap and left to heal. This can take a couple of months, on average 3 months, depending on several factors such as age, dental health and the location and conditions of the site it is installed in the jaw.
Once the implant integrates with your bone properly, an abutment can be attached. Finally, a crown that matches the surrounding teeth is fitted onto the abutment.
Pros and cons of dentures
There are some good points and bad points for dentures
- They support your facial muscles
- They are natural-looking
- They are less expensive than implants
- The procedure for fitting dentures in non-invasive
- The process of making dentures is relatively quick and only requires about four dental visits
- They are not fixed in the mouth
- They take a while to get used to
- They entail a lot of maintenance. They must be cleaned and stored properly and need to be re-lined as the gums shrink
- Ill-fitting or improperly used dentures can lead to gum infections
Pros and cons of implants
Just like dentures, implants also have their own merits and demerits
- They are easy to care for. Just brush and floss like you would your natural teeth
- Implants look and feel very much like natural teeth
- They allow you to eat any food
- Dental implants put no strain on your remaining natural teeth
- With proper care, your implants should last a long while
- They preserve the integrity of your facial structure and jawbones
- This treatment is expensive. However, there is an extremely high satisfaction rating
- The procedure is lengthy, with most taking around 3 months from initial consultation to final restoration
- They are not suitable for everyone
What to consider when choosing dental implants or dentures
Other than weighing their pros and cons, the right choice is entirely based on the patient. Some of the factors to consider when choosing between dentures and dental implants include:
Dental implants require a certain amount of jawbone structure to support the implants. If you have lost bone material, be it from age, gum disease injury or extraction done many years ago, you may not be a good candidate for implants.
Dental implants can last many years with proper care whereas dentures will need replacements relatively frequently.
Dental implants provide a better comfort level than dentures as they are fixed and not bulky, whereas dentures will require a bit of time to get used to wearing.
Dentures require a lot of care to maintain their integrity. You will need to remove them every night and thoroughly clean them. Implants also require meticulous oral hygiene to ensure long-term success.
Dental implants offer a more permanent solution to missing teeth and can be placed at any age. Patients who are not ready to endure the long and more invasive, more expensive process of getting implants can be fitted with dentures.
Dentures maintenance Vs. implants maintenance
Dental implants require maintenance that is similar to that for natural teeth. You need to brush them at least twice a day, floss daily and get your regular dental checkups and scalings.
For dentures to remain viable for the long term, daily maintenance is required. For starters, you should not wear them overnight. You should remove them before brushing your teeth and clean them with soap and water before soaking them in water or a dental cleaning solution during that time.
Since the structure of your jaw changes with time, you will need to have your dentures relined from time to time. Dental implants, however, are permanent and only require replacing if the crown cracks or breaks.
Alternatives to dentures and implants
Besides dentures and implants, there are several other alternative treatments for missing teeth, including;
Dental bridges are a common solution for missing teeth. They consist of one or more false teeth, which bridge a gap by attaching to the natural teeth on either side. Dental bridges offer a convenient approach to filling gaps but require trimming of neighbouring teeth for support.
Partial dentures are removable retainer-like devices that contain one or more missing teeth. They can easily be removed and offer the appearance of a full smile. Partial dentures are some of the most affordable solutions for missing teeth. However, they require maintenance along the same lines as full dentures.
These look more like a cross between implants and dentures. Their installation process includes the placement of implants to secure their position. The denture then snaps onto a bar or ball attachment but can still be removed.
Not sure what treatment is right for you?
Choosing the right treatment depends on several factors, including the health of your jawbone and the remaining teeth, your preference, and the cost of the treatment. Whichever treatment you choose, make sure to practice proper oral hygiene to maintain them for the longest time possible.
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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.