Many of our patients find themselves debating whether to get dental implants or dentures to replace their missing teeth. It’s a big decision to make and there are certainly pros and cons to each option. Below, we’ll go over some of the most important things to consider and the differences between dental implants and dentures.
Dental Implants Preserve Jaw Bone
You’ve undoubtedly heard it many times by now: dental implants prevent bone loss. But what does this really mean? How do dental implants accomplish this? Why does bone loss occur in the first place?
Your secondary (permanent) teeth are held in place by long roots that extend into the jawbone. The presence of these roots stimulates the jawbone, telling it that it is needed for support. When tooth loss occurs, the root is no longer there to stimulate the bone, and the jaw starts to deteriorate because it isn’t needed to provide support anymore. We see these symptoms as bone loss progresses:
- The development of facial collapse, a condition in which the jaw starts to recede, creating a sunken, aged appearance
- Difficulty eating
- Other teeth shifting, becoming loose, or even falling out
Dentures replace the visible portion of your missing teeth but not the roots below the gum line. This means the bone loss continues with dentures, eventually leading to facial collapse and a weakened bite.
Dental Implants Function More Like Natural Teeth
Dentures do not function like real teeth since they only replace teeth above the gum line. Because of this, dentures are less comfortable than implant-supported restorations. Dentures can slip, interfere with the way you speak, make it hard for you to eat, or rub against your gums, causing painful sores. You may need to use messy denture adhesives or creams every morning, then remove your denture before you go to bed every night.
Dental implants, on the other hand, look and feel more like natural teeth than any other replacement option. Although some implant-supported dentures can be removed and cleaned with a denture cleaning solution, most restorations are brushed just like the rest of your teeth. Implant-supported restorations have no effect on your speech, don’t require adhesives, and you can continue to eat all of your favorite foods.
Dental Implants Last a Lifetime
Dentures must be relined and replaced on a regular basis; as the form of the jawbone changes with bone loss, dentures will no longer fit properly. Dental implants are designed to last a lifetime and because of their stability, the restorations that attach to them can last much longer than traditional dentures before needing replacement.
Dentures Are More Affordable
The full cost of dental implants is rarely covered by dental insurance, while dentures are more likely to be covered. This is often a deciding factor for many patients, but it shouldn’t be. There are ways to make dental implants more affordable and some implant-based restorations are less expensive than others. It’s also important to consider long-term costs and the oral health benefits of dental implants.