The good news about missing a tooth or teeth in the modern age is that you have more options than ever before for replacing your teeth. Dentures, or removable teeth, are still available, but there are more permanent and durable options, too, such as dental implants. How do you choose the one that’s best for you? Take a close look at the differences between dentures and implants and speak with a tooth replacement specialist to get the full rundown on which one best meets your needs.
What are Dentures?
Dentures can replace a single tooth, several teeth, or every tooth in your mouth. What sets them apart from other replacement options is that they’re removable. You’re meant to remove your denture when you need to clean it or before you go to bed at night.
A set of dentures that replaces all of your teeth is known as a complete denture. It rests on the gum line and usually has an acrylic base that closely resembles your gums. Full dentures are often held in place with an adhesive. A partial denture replaces one or more teeth. It is supported by the remaining natural teeth around it and is usually held in place by clasps.
What are Implants?
Like dentures, dental implants can replace a single tooth or multiple teeth. You can get implants to replace every tooth in your mouth, too. A full replacement set is often achieved with what is called an “All On 4,” which is an entire set of teeth that are positioned in the gums using just four posts.
Unlike dentures, getting dental implants involves surgery. You will usually receive either local anesthetic or sedation during the procedure, so you won’t feel anything and so discomfort is minimal as you heal.
A dentist typically inserts a small titanium post into the area where the tooth is missing. The post acts as the root of the tooth and provides support and structure. It is then usually covered over with a crown or cap, which looks like a natural tooth.
Depending on your specific situation, the process of getting implants can be immediate or take place over the course of a few months. In the case of an immediate implant, you walk out with your new teeth or tooth the same day. Otherwise, the dentist will first place the implant into the jawbone, allow it to settle into position over a few weeks, then make an impression of the missing tooth to create a crown for it.
Benefits of Replacement Teeth
Whether you go for dentures or implants, there are major benefits to replacing any missing teeth. A big benefit is a visual improvement in your smile. You’ll look better and feel more confident when all of your teeth are in place. Since the lips and facial muscles can droop or sag when no teeth are there to support them, getting replacements can help take years off of your appearance, too.
Replacement teeth don’t only improve your looks. The teeth, whether an implant or a denture, can help improve the way your mouth functions. It’s difficult to chew with even a single tooth missing, for example. Speech can also become difficult if you’re missing a tooth or two, as you might develop a lisp or find it troublesome to form certain words.
Things to Consider
There are several factors to consider when deciding between dentures or implants. For example, they vary considerably in terms of cost, durability, and function.
- Cost. Generally, dentures are much cheaper than dental implants. While the lower cost might seem like a good thing for your budget, it can actually be problematic as the lowest cost dentures also tend to be low quality. You end up with a set that don’t fit well or look unnatural. Although implants do cost more upfront, you have the benefit of knowing that they’re a permanent fix and that they’ll look, feel, and act like natural teeth.
- Durability. One of the biggest drawbacks of dentures is that you can take them out of your mouth. That means there is a slight chance the denture will come loose during the course of your day. You might accidentally swallow the denture if you fall asleep wearing it or you could lose the denture if it falls out at an inopportune time.
- Function. Both implants and dentures help your mouth work better. But, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to dentures. Many people find that it can be challenging to speak with their dentures in place, at least at first, and also find that they need to adjust their diets as they acclimate to their dentures. For example, it’s not uncommon for people to realize that they can’t exactly bite down into an apple or eat sticky or hard foods like they were able to before they had dentures.
- Care and Comfort. You can clean implants like you would your natural teeth and they feel like natural teeth. Dentures, on the other hand, need a special cleaning routine. You have to take them out in the evening before bed and soak them in a glass of water to keep them from drying out. If the dentures don’t fit quite right, there’s a chance they will irritate or hurt your gums, too.
Miami periodontists and implant specialists Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas can help you review your tooth replacement options and pick the one that best suits you. Call (305) 447-1447 to schedule a consultation with the dentists today!