10 Differences Between Dentures and Dental Implants

Implants vs. dentures

Implants vs. Dentures: Understanding the Facts

You rely on your teeth every day for countless tasks, from speaking and eating to expressing yourself to the people around you. They even keep your jawbone healthy and help you feel confident in your smile. Since they’re so important, it only makes sense that when you need to replace missing teeth, you’d want to choose the best possible tooth replacement option—one that will restore the health, function, and appearance of your missing teeth.

If you’ve begun to investigate the best tooth replacement options available from prosthodontics near Buffalo MN, you’ve likely heard of dentures and dental implants. When you’re first diving into the process of researching these very different treatments, it’s easy to get details mixed up; or maybe you have a difficult time differentiating between the two. We want you to have all the information you need to feel confident that you’ve chosen the best treatment possible for you, so we’ve put together an implants vs. dentures guide to help you understand the differences between them better.

Why would you need to replace missing teeth?

While your dentist will always do their best to save a damaged tooth whenever possible, there are several reasons you may lose a tooth, including extensive decay, periodontitis, infection, or a severely broken or cracked tooth that can’t be repaired. When you lose a tooth to an issue like this, it’s vital to replace it so you can restore your smile’s health, function, and appearance.

What are dentures?

Dentures are pieces of acrylic plastic that are shaped and shaded to match your natural gums and set with prosthetic teeth. Some dentures are reinforced with metal to make them stronger and more durable. There are several different types of dentures, including partial dentures and fully removable dentures. Partial dentures are used to replace several missing teeth, often if they’re all along the same arch, while full removable dentures are used to replace one or both arches of your teeth.

What are implants?

Dental implants are a tooth restoration treatment option that replaces your missing tooth roots as well as their chewing surfaces. They consist of titanium metal rods that are embedded directly into your jawbone to serve as your new tooth roots. These rods then support a dental restoration, which can be anything from a dental crown on a single implant to a bridge, partial denture, or full dentures on several implants.

What are the main differences between implants vs. dentures?

While dentures and dental implants have the same goal of restoring and protecting the health, function, and appearance of your smile, they go about reaching this goal in very different ways. As a result, there are a lot of differences between the two tooth replacement options. Here’s a breakdown of 10 major differences between them.

1. Dental implants and dentures are both custom-made for you

Whether you choose dental implants or dentures, you’ll get to choose the size, shape, and shade of your new teeth. Implants tend to look incredibly natural, more so than traditional removable dentures. That said, removable dentures have come a long way, and people often won’t realize you’re wearing them. Each restoration is carefully crafted to give you a smile that you’ll truly love and feel confident in.

2. Dental implants feel completely natural

The deep-rooted security of dental implants helps them feel and function just like natural teeth. The biocompatible titanium rods even encourage bone to grow up around them, holding them in place like a natural tooth root. As a result, you’ll be able to eat all of your favorite foods, including foods that are best avoided with removable dentures, and you’ll never have to worry about your restoration slipping when you eat or speak.

3. Dentures are a less invasive process

Aside from any tooth extractions you may need before getting dentures, the most invasive part of the process is getting a dental impression taken. This impression is taken to help create your custom dentures, and it’s a simple, easy process! Nowadays, it doesn’t even involve messy, goopy putty; instead, scanning your mouth to create a digital 3D image is all it takes.

4. Dental implants usually take several months to receive

Before you commit to getting dental implants, it’s important to know that the process usually takes two or three procedures over several months. Much of this time is spent healing between procedures, so it’s often a much less complicated or intimidating process than people realize.

5. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that prevents bone loss in your jaw

Your natural tooth roots keep your jawbone healthy by providing it with constant stimulation that tells your body to continue sending nutrients to it. When you lose a tooth, you lose that stimulation, and other tooth replacement options can’t provide it. Since dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that replaces your tooth roots, they’re the only one that prevents this bone loss in your jaw. The bone growth that the titanium rods encourage during the healing process can even reverse some bone loss.

6. Dentures can speed up bone loss in your jaw

In addition to not being able to prevent bone loss in your jaw, it’s important to realize that removable dentures can speed up bone loss in your jaw because of the constant pressure they place on the shelf of bone underneath your gums that they rest on. Over time, this can change the appearance of your face, creating the distinct sunken-in appearance of many denture wearers.

7. Dentures cost less than dental implants

When it comes to the cost of implants vs. dentures, removable dentures are a much less expensive option. This is due to several factors, including the fact that there are no surgical procedures involved. For many people, this is a major factor in deciding between the two treatments.

8. Dental implants require a healthy amount of bone density in your jaw

Since dental implants are embedded directly into your jawbone, you need to have a healthy amount of bone density there to support them. If you’ve already suffered extensive bone loss in your jaw, you may still be able to get implants by getting bone grafts first.  

9. Dentures require frequent adjustments and need to be replaced more often

Over time, bone loss in your jaw changes the way removable dentures fit in your mouth, often causing them to fit more loosely. This makes them more likely to begin slipping when you eat, speak, or laugh—something dentures that fit properly should never do, even without denture adhesives. As a result, you’ll need to have your dentures evaluated every year to determine if they need to be adjusted.

Additionally, these changes, as well as general wear and tear, make it necessary to replace removable dentures about every five to 10 years. This means that although removable dentures are an inexpensive tooth replacement option, they do come with long-term, continued costs.

10. Dental implants are designed to last a lifetime

The unique way that implants replace missing teeth, with the bone of your jaw growing around them like it would a natural tooth root, is permanent. If you take good care of them and maintain a great oral hygiene routine, your implants will last a lifetime. The restoration on top of your implants may need to be replaced eventually due to wear and tear, but they can last around 15 years when taken care of properly.

Who is a candidate for each procedure?

Since these tooth replacement options vary so greatly, they do have different requirements when it comes to who is a good candidate for implants vs. dentures. Before you receive any tooth replacement treatment, your remaining teeth and gums need to be healthy. This means that if you have gum disease or cavities, these issues will need to be treated before you can receive either dentures or dental implants. Otherwise, you don’t need to meet many requirements to be a good candidate for removable dentures. Almost anyone who is missing most or all of their teeth is a good candidate.

Dental implants are incredibly versatile, so they’re a potential treatment option whether you’re missing a single tooth, all of your teeth, or anything in between. They require more extensive procedures, though, so you need to meet more requirements to be a good candidate for them. You need to have healthy bone density in your jaw; though, bone grafts can help you accomplish this if you’ve already suffered bone loss.

The process requires quite a bit of healing, so you may not be a good candidate if you have a health condition that makes you vulnerable to infections or that makes you heal more slowly. It doesn’t automatically rule you out, but it’s a factor that you’ll want to discuss with your doctor and your dentist. Despite these qualifications, many people are still great candidates for dental implants, so it’s always worth asking your dentist if they’re an option for you.   

Ask your dentist about the best tooth replacement option for you. 

When you’re replacing missing teeth, it’s normal to want to choose the best possible option for you. Being able to choose from options like removable dentures and dental implants ensures you’re able to choose a treatment that meets your needs and your wants, allowing you to reclaim a smile that’s both functional and naturally beautiful. If you’d like to learn more about tooth replacement options or prosthodontics near Buffalo MN, feel free to schedule a consultation at our Buffalo dental office any time.

DCA of Buffalo