Implants vs. Dentures: Which Is Right for You?

dental implants

Proper dental care is extremely important and emphasized by dentists all around the globe. This care helps prevent diseases and other problems from arising within the mouth. However, even people who have the most rigorous and attentive cleaning routines may find themselves with missing teeth. Injuries, accidents, and old age can all cause teeth to get knocked out or fall out over time. There are options available to help fill in the gaps of missing teeth, whether only a couple are missing or a whole mouthful is. While it may be difficult to know which option is right for you, dentists can help by giving you recommendations based on your specific situation. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between dental implants and dentures below.

What Are Implants?

Dental implants are false teeth replacements that get drilled right into the bone of your mouth. They are installed over the course of a few steps. The procedure begins with the dentist inserting a screw into the bone. Oftentimes, there will be a waiting period during which time the bone and gums heal and bind to the screw. Then the dentist will attach a crown to the screw. The crown will look like your other teeth, blending in naturally. This implant will be a permanent addition to your mouth and you won’t notice much of a difference between it and the rest of your teeth.

These implants can replace your missing teeth one at a time. That is, a single implant replaces a single tooth. If multiple adjacent teeth are missing, then a dental bridge can be used to replace them all at once. A dental bridge is a type of implant that uses two anchor points within your bone in order to support a row of crowns, or false teeth. The two anchor points will be installed in the same way as a normal implant. The only difference is that all of the crowns between these anchor points do not get implants. Instead, they are all attached to each other in a row, creating a bridge across the gap in your mouth. These dental bridges are also permanent and seamless with the rest of your mouth and teeth.

What Are Dentures?

Dentures are prosthetic devices. Fake teeth are mounted onto a plate or frame and then inserted into the mouth. The fake teeth will fill in the gaps of the missing teeth, matching the rest of the mouth seamlessly. Because this option uses a plate or frame, any number of teeth can be replaced with one device. The denture can hold a couple, several, or even a full mouth’s worth of fake teeth. A dentist will measure your mouth and fit you with a denture that is made specifically for you and your teeth. It may take some time for it to be made, but once it’s ready for you to try on for the first time, you won’t notice any difference between the fake teeth and your real ones. This option is not permanent because you can remove the denture at any time.

The Differences Between Them

The main difference between dental implants and dentures is their level of permanence. Implants can never be removed because they are screwed right into the bone of your mouth. They are more of a “set it and forget it” procedure. On the other hand, you can freely take out your denture and put it back in anytime.

Another difference between these two options is their degree of invasiveness. Having implants installed is much like having a minor surgery done. You will need dental sedation and/or local anesthesia to dull the discomfort and pain of the screw being inserted. You will then need to give your mouth time to heal. The foods you eat during this time will be limited and you may have self-care instructions from your dentist, including taking pain medication or leaving gauze in your mouth. Alternatively, dentures do not involve any sort of procedure. Once the dentist measures your mouth and makes a mold for your dentures, all you need to do is wait for them to be made. Then, once you return to pick them up, you can simply pop them into your mouth. While it may take some time to get used to wearing them, there is generally no other care you’ll need to take as far as the procedure goes.

What Are the Benefits of Each?

Both dental implants and dentures have a number of benefits that make them viable options for patients. Many people are drawn to the “set it and forget it” feature of implants because of the convenience it offers. They can continue living their life as if they were never missing any teeth in the first place, and not much will change in their lifestyle if anything at all. Plus, it’s been found that the success rate of dental implants is 98%, making them a safe option.

On the other hand, people might prefer the ability to remove their dentures at will. Being able to completely remove fake teeth makes them much easier to clean. Additionally, the process for obtaining dentures is very simple and non-invasive, meaning it is easy for people to take that path because there is not much they need to do before or during the process.

What Are the Drawbacks of Each?

Even if you find yourself already leaning towards one option over another, it’s important to consider the drawbacks of each so that you don’t run into any negative surprises down the road. For example, dental implants require sufficient and proper bone to be inserted into. If you don’t have enough strong bone, then some may need to be grafted which will add time to an already long procedure. Furthermore, since the procedure is indeed invasive, you must be ready to take care of your mouth and health after the screw has been inserted. You will likely experience discomfort or even some pain.

While there is no pain involved with dentures, they may be uncomfortable to wear until you get used to them. You will experience a learning curve as you find it difficult to talk and eat with this device inside your mouth. Although in time you will get the hang of it, this experience is still something to consider. Additionally, sometimes wearing dentures can be inconvenient to wear depending on what kind you get. Some snap into place and others use adhesive cream. Some people don’t like the idea of their mouth being full of goo, or of their dentures possibly falling out at an inopportune moment.

How to Care for Each

Whichever option you choose, you will need to learn how to care for it. Care can include cleaning, storing, and dealing with rare problems that could arise. For dental implants, you should brush them twice a day as you would with real teeth. Brush them with toothpaste in the morning and at night. Be sure to also floss if your implants have gaps between them and always use mouthwash too. If you ever notice pain, discomfort, or movement in your implant, see your dentist right away.

When it comes to caring for your dentures, you should clean them once every day. In the evening, take them out of your mouth and brush them with a soft brush and denture cleaner. Be sure to also clean off the adhesive cream if you use any. Then soak the dentures overnight. If your dentures ever cause you pain or discomfort, stop wearing them and see your dentist right away.

Which One Is Better?

While each option might be better in different situations, neither is really better than the other. Since they are different methods for replacing missing teeth, they cannot be directly compared in this way. Dental implants are a direct replacement. Dentures, on the other hand, fill the gaps caused by missing teeth. Both can be considered restorative dentistry because they aid in eating and talking and also prevent other issues from arising that are caused by missing teeth. However, the pros and cons of each make it difficult to name one as better than the other. Indeed, for some people, the features of one option may seem like drawbacks and vice versa. The better option comes down to your preferences, needs, and dentist recommendations.

Dentist Recommendations

Your dentist will be able to weigh the factors of both options and help you decide which one to go with. They will consider things like how many teeth you need to replace, what your budget is, which option the dentist has more experience with, the availability of parts, how old you are, and how each option will affect your specific situation. Your dentist will also be able to give you more information about what to expect with each procedure to help you decide which one you’re willing to take part in. They will go over things like how to care for each option, problems you might run into, and what each procedure will entail. This is your opportunity to ask as many questions as you have to help you get a better understanding of each. Your dentist may also make suggestions based on your mouth. For example, if you don’t have the bone strength to support implants, then they might suggest dentures or explain the bone grafting procedure to you. The decision will ultimately be yours unless your dentist is unable to perform one option or the other for a particular reason. With that said, it is essential you pay heed to any advice they give because they are professionals and have a lot of experience with these procedures.

When to Choose Implants

Knowing when dental implants are better suited for a situation can be helpful in your decision-making process. Implants can be a great choice for when you only need to replace one or two teeth. Since they are a one-to-one replacement, it is much easier for your dentist to use this method to replace only a couple rather than a whole bunch of teeth. It also doesn’t make much sense to have a denture made for just one tooth, although it is possible if you prefer. However, if you want to avoid surgery and everything that comes with it, then you may want to opt for dentures. Keep in mind, though, that the implant surgery is very minor.

Although implants are best for replacing one or two teeth, you can use bridges to replace three or more teeth as long as all of the teeth are next to each other. Bridges cannot be used to fill in gaps that occur in random locations throughout the mouth, but they are a good choice for adjacent gaps. Whether you want dental implants or bridges, they are in general the best choice if you don’t want to deal with any kind of after-care. You’ll be able to live the rest of your life without even thinking about your implants and treat them just like normal teeth. This makes them a better choice for young adults.

When to Choose Dentures

If you are missing most or all of your teeth, then you might want to choose dentures over implants. Dentures will be able to fill in all of these gaps with one device so you don’t have to sit through multiple implant surgeries. In most cases like this, the dentures will be more effective due to their all-encompassing nature. Additionally, if you would rather choose the option that has the least invasive procedure, then dentures may be for you. The implant procedure can often be more difficult for older people or young kids, and the post-procedure conveniences may not be worth it. That’s why many older people opt for dentures. Dentures may also be better suited for young children because their mouth is still growing, so permanent implants at a young age may be a detriment to their development. Be sure to discuss all of these factors with your dentist.

If you are ready to fill in the gaps of your mouth caused by missing teeth, then speak with your dentist to discuss which option is right for you. Both dental implants and dentures have their own benefits and drawbacks, and the one you choose ultimately comes down to your needs and wants. Either way, you will be able to get your smile back and get your life back on track. Reach out to our family dentist today to get started!