Dental implants isolated on orange background. 3d illustration

Let’s Talk Teeth: The Difference Between Dental Implants vs. Dentures

Have teeth problems? You’re not alone. As many as 25% of American adults currently have untreated dental caries. That’s a lot of people suffering from tooth decay.

But the bigger problem is that many people won’t get the treatment they need, which can lead to bigger, more painful problems in the future.

And untreated tooth decay can inevitably lead to tooth loss. Of course, tooth loss can also result from injuries or infections. And even though you might be fine without a tooth, it’s not good to have gaps in your smile.

Dental implants vs. dentures, which is a better way to fill those holes when your precious teeth are gone? They both serve similar functions but are two unique solutions. Read on below to see what the difference is between a dental implant vs. bridge vs dentures.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are a long-term, permanent solution for missing teeth. Once complete, it will more or less be a regular tooth.

Dental implants require the original root of a tooth to be completely removed, in order to expose the jaw bone. A hols is then screwed into the jawbone, where your dentist places a post. This functions as a prosthetic tooth root.

Once the post is in place, healing needs to take place before your dentist can attach the crown to the post. Bone needs to grow around the bone so that the post stays in place.

It can take many months before a post is ready for a crown, that looks and functions like a regular tooth. Once the crown sits on the tooth, you shouldn’t need to do anything else for your new tooth.

Benefits of Dental Implants

Dental implants provide a permanent solution for a missing tooth. All you’ll need to do after receiving an implant is care for your teeth as normal, with regular brushing and flossing.

For those under the age of 60, the permanence of an implant is ideal, as they will have many years, or decades, to enjoy a fully functional tooth.

But implants require the recipient to have a strong bone density in order to hold the implant. If you’ve lost any bone mass for any reason in your jaw, then implants may not be in your best interest.

What Are Dentures?

Dentures are prosthetic teeth, made to fit your mouth. But unlike implants, they are easily removable.

Dentures usually come as a set, either the entire upper or entire lower set of teeth. You can also get dentures for one or a few teeth.

Dentures sit in your mouth using a special adhesive designed to hold your dentures on your gums. You can remove them whenever you want. In fact, you should not wear your dentures 24 hours a day.

You need to remove them every day to allow for effective cleaning of your mouth and of the dentures.

The downside of dentures is the cleaning and upkeep required. Unlike dental implants, dentures are not as simple as normal teeth. You should soak them overnight in water or a cleaning solution. They should be removed and cleaned, especially after eating.

Dentures also need to be refitted once in a while, since your bite naturally changes over time.

Benefits of Dentures

Fitting a set of dentures doesn’t require the invasive surgery of drilling holes into bone. But often, it does mean the removal of some of your teeth, to make a complete set of dentures.

Recovery after this is much faster, and the process less painful overall. And while dentures take time to produce and test, they are much faster than the process of waiting for a dental implant post to set.

As you may have guessed, dentures are more common for those over the age of 60, who don’t want to deal with the pain, recovery time, and cost associated with implants.

Dentures are usually cheaper than dental implants. A full upper or lower set of dentures usually costs less than $2,000 while a single dental implant can cost more than $2,000.

What Are Bridges?

Dental bridges are less invasive solutions to individual missing teeth. A literal bridge is created to cover the gap where a tooth once lived.

The bridge is made up of two dental crowns that sit atop the teeth on either side of the gap. These are the anchor points of the bridge. The fake tooth in the middle is called the pontic.

Bridges require the two anchoring teeth to be shaped and trimmed down, which allows room for the crowns to sit on top. This requires some invasive procedures, but not as bad as implants.

At first, the bridge is affixed temporarily. It needs to be monitored over the course of a few weeks to ensure it fits properly in your mouth and matches your bite.

Once confirmed, the bridge is cemented in place, and can last upwards of 15 years with proper care.

Benefits of Bridges

Bridges allow you to fix your smile in a permanent way that isn’t as intensive as an implant. But you also don’t need to deal with the hassle of denture care. Caring for a bridge is the same as caring for an implant; brush and floss daily.

Implants can help to restore your bite, allowing you to chew properly. They also prevent your other teeth from drifting out of place as they try to fill the gap where you are missing a tooth.

Dental Implants vs. Dentures; Which Is Right for You?

Each method of tooth replacement has its pros and cons. Implants and bridges are intended to be permanent solutions. Once finished, there is no ordinary maintenance or cleaning required. Your teeth function as normal.

However, having these done requires minor or major surgical procedures, with varying recovery times. These methods are also better suited to one or two missing teeth.

Dentures are the easier, more affordable option for those replacing multiple teeth, or even their entire mouth. But the hassle of caring for dentures takes time to get used to.

Getting Your Smile Back

So dental implants vs. dentures, which are you going to choose? Depending on your age, and the health of your teeth and gums, your dentist might recommend one option over another. Consult them, along with your budget, to see which option is best for you.

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