If you’re dealing with tooth loss, you’re not alone. The American College of Prosthodontists estimates that 178 million Americans are affected by this serious problem. We understand the significant role a healthy smile plays in self-confidence and the far reaching-impact tooth loss can have on a patient’s quality of life. We know there are many restorative options available and believe patient education is the key to choosing the right treatments. Dentures and implants each have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to discuss your options in detail with your dentist.
Here’s an overview to get you started:
What exactly are dental implants?
Dental implants are essentially artificial tooth roots that create a strong foundation for artificial teeth known as crowns. Crowns are custom-made to fit a patient’s mouth and match their natural teeth. Many dentists and patients prefer dental implants because they offer the same function as natural teeth and also help prevent bone atrophy in the jaw. They can be used to replace a single missing or damaged tooth or to restore an entire smile.
Am I a good candidate for dental implants?
Given the number of implant options available today, most people are good candidates. As long as facial growth and development are complete dental implants can be an excellent option for those who were born without a tooth or have lost teeth due to injury or decay. Prior to determining the appropriate course of action, patients undergo a thorough evaluation of the jaw, teeth, mouth, and overall health. This generally includes a mouth X-ray and / or a CT scan to help identify areas of bone loss, shape of the sinuses and nerve location, which are critical when assessing treatment options.
Overall, dental implants might be right if you:
- Have healthy gums and enough bone in your jaw to secure the implants
- Do not have health conditions that would affect the healing process after surgery
- Have one or more teeth that will need to be replaced
- Are a non-smoker
Pros of dental implants:
- Dental implants have over a 95% success rate.
- Dental implants are cared for just like natural teeth and don’t require a special regimen.
- Implants preserve the integrity of facial structure and jawbones.
- Just like natural teeth, implants allow the bone to continue to grow (i.e., osseointegration), creating further stabilization.
Cons of dental implants:
- Implants are more expensive than dentures.
- Because dental implants are often classified as a cosmetic procedure, they are unlikely to be covered by most insurance.
- Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants, as implants need healthy bones and gums to secure properly to the jaw. While bone and tissue grafts can be done to allow for implants, it’s important to note that additional procedures increase the overall implant cost.
What are dentures?
Dentures are removable, prosthetic teeth fitted to a patient’s mouth. Made to look like natural teeth and gum, dentures use a pink acrylic base to support artificial teeth. The base is held in place with a special adhesive that bonds to the gums. Full dentures are recommended for patients missing all teeth in their upper, lower, or both jaws. For patients who have fewer missing teeth, partial dentures may be an option.
Am I a good candidate for dentures?
The denture process begins with an impression of the upper or lower gums (or both if needed) and a study of the patient’s bite and jaw alignment. This ensures the length of the dentures will allow for optimal chewing and speech. Based on this information, a preliminary set of dentures are made. Before the final set of dentures is produced, your dentist will schedule a fitting to make any needed adjustments to the alignment or length of the teeth.
Unlike dental implants, which have more requirements, dentures are feasible for most adults. Generally, candidates for dentures are patients who:
- Want to replace several or all of their teeth
- Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products
- Do not suffer from dry mouth
- Are prepared to put the time and effort needed into properly caring for their dentures at home
Pros of dentures:
- Dentures are less expensive than implants and are generally covered by insurance.
- Unlike implants, which are anchored to the jawbone, dentures can be an excellent replacement option for patients who have experienced bone loss.
- The procedure for fitting dentures is non-invasive.
Cons of dentures:
- Since the structure of your face and gums change with age, denture adjustments or replacements may be necessary.
- Dentures can feel bulky and may be uncomfortable at first. In addition, some patients experience increased salivation, difficulty chewing, and difficulty speaking.
- Dentures need to be cleaned meticulously every day to prevent infection around the mouth and gums.
As with all healthcare decisions, the choice between dentures or implants requires careful consideration and should be made in consultation with our experienced dental team. The best way to start the process is to schedule an appointment with our office.