Advantages and Disadvantages: Dentures vs. Implants

If you’re missing teeth, you’re not alone! In fact, an estimated 30 million people in the US are missing all of their upper or lower teeth, or both. Fortunately, modern dental technology offers several ways to replace missing teeth. For many, the most obvious choice is dentures. These prosthetic devices have been around in one form or another for hundreds of years. Today’s versions are more attractive, comfortable and durable than ever before. But modern dental technology offers another solution to replacing missing teeth: dental implants. If you’re trying to decide between these two options, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve gathered the following information about advantages and disadvantages: dentures vs. implants.

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Basic Information about Dentures

Most of us are familiar with dentures, generally speaking. Today’s versions come in a variety of styles, including partial sets and full sets. Patients can choose from conventional dentures (those that are fitted onto already healed gum tissue); immediate dentures (those fitted onto not-yet-healed gum tissue, immediately after teeth are extracted); and snap-on dentures (those that literally snap-on to dental implants that have been inserted in strategic locations in the patient’s mouth). People needing partial dentures can choose between removable and fixed (non-removable).

Basic Information about Implants

Dental implants have become increasingly popular with patients over the past several years, and with good reason: they are a permanent way to replace one or more missing teeth. An implant consists of a metal rod (typically made from titanium) that is inserted into the jawbone of the patient, exactly at the location of the missing tooth. Over a period of months, the metal fuses to the bone tissue, creating what is essentially an artificial tooth root. Once that is complete, the dentist affixes a crown to the top of the implant. Although it’s a lengthy process, patients with dental implants swear by them.

Advantages of Dentures

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Now that we’ve briefly discussed both dentures and implants, it’s time to look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of both. What follows are some advantages offered by dentures:

  • Dentures are less expensive than implants.
  • Patients who undergo tooth extraction can choose immediate dentures, which allow them to enjoy a full set of teeth right away.
  • Aside from the initial tooth extraction, dentures are non-invasive and don’t require surgery.
  • Both partial and full sets of dentures take relatively little time to manufacture.

Disadvantages of Dentures

For all of their benefits, dentures do come with some disadvantages when compared to implants. These include the following:

  • Dentures don’t look as natural as implants.
  • Dentures require special cleaning procedures that involve removing the prosthetics and soaking them overnight.
  • Most wearers of conventional dentures need to use denture adhesive to hold them in place. Even with adhesive, dentures can still slip and move around inside the mouth.
  • Dentures come with some dietary restrictions for most people. Foods like corn on the cob, apples and sticky foods like caramel are usually difficult to eat with dentures.
  • People who wear dentures have an increased risk of gum disease if food gets caught under the prosthetic device.
    • Dentures typically need to be replaced every 3 to 6 years.
  • Partial dentures often rely on the support of adjacent teeth to hold them in place. This can weaken those natural teeth.

Advantages of Implants

Implants bring with them several benefits for people who choose this tooth-replacing alternative. Advantages include the following:

  • Implants not only look completely natural; patients report that they feel just like natural teeth as well.
  • Dental implants don’t require any special cleaning procedures; people with implants can simply brush and floss as they normally would.
  • There are no dietary restrictions with implants. Because the implants never slip or move the way that dentures do, patients with implants can feel free to enjoy whatever foods they like.
  • Because the dental implant stimulates the bone tissue that it’s inserted into, jawbone tissue can be preserved and kept healthy thanks to implants.
  • Implants don’t rely on other teeth to support them, meaning that any existing adjacent teeth can remain strong and healthy.
  • Dental implants typically last for decades, and sometimes for the life of the patient.

Disadvantages of Implants

While it’s true that the list of advantages with implants is impressive, they do come with some disadvantages that steer some people away from this tooth-replacement method:

  • Implants are expensive. Depending on feels of the dentist or oral surgeon, implants can cost as much as $4,000 per tooth.
  • The implant procedure takes time – a lot of time. In fact, once the metal rod is inserted into the patient’s jawbone, it typically takes several months before an artificial tooth can be affixed to the top of the implant.
  • The implant process is invasive. Make no mistake about it: getting dental implants is oral surgery.

There is one tooth-replacement alternative that combines both denture and implant technology, and that is a prosthetic device called a snap-on denture. This method involves the dentist or oral surgeon inserting implants in the mouth of the patient, then fitting the person with a prosthetic device that literally snaps onto the implants. The result is a set of dentures that fits securely inside the patient’s mouth without the need for adhesive to hold them in place.

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