Losing teeth—whether as a result of injury, periodontal disease, or other causes—is often traumatic for patients. When considering treatment for tooth loss, the options can seem overwhelming. In fact, some people avoid seeking treatment altogether, reasoning that both the time and expense of tooth restoration are too great. Living with tooth loss, however, can have some serious consequences. A significant loss of self-esteem associated with the change in physical appearance is common. Aesthetics aren’t the only concern when it comes to tooth loss, though. Because our mouths are designed to function with a full set of teeth, chewing and speaking often become more difficult for patients who suffer from tooth loss. Additional consequences of tooth loss include shifting teeth and, ultimately, bone loss. So, treating tooth loss should be a no-brainer and treatment should happen as soon as possible.
Should I get dentures or implants?
Once patients have decided to replace their missing teeth, they often question which replacement option is best: dentures or dental implants.
Dentures are removable appliances used to replace missing teeth. They can be partial or full; full dentures replace all of the teeth while partial dentures are used when some of the natural teeth still remain. Dentures today are not the same as dentures of years past. Today’s dentures come in a variety of colors and sizes so they have a natural appearance. Some other benefits of choosing dentures include:
- Affordability. When compared to other tooth replacement options, dentures tend to be the most affordable choice. This is particularly true when multiple teeth need to be replaced.
- Non-invasive. Getting dentures is a painless, non-surgical, and non-invasive process.
- Adjustable. Modifying dentures to adjust to changes in the mouth—such as additional tooth loss—is a relatively simple process.
But just as there are benefits to choosing dentures for tooth replacement, there are also some drawbacks. The most commonly cited drawbacks include:
- Removable. Because dentures are not permanent fixtures in the mouth, they can sometimes slip around. Eating certain foods might also be problematic.
- Maintenance. Dentures must be removed frequently for cleaning. Additionally, it’s recommended that they be left out of the mouth overnight.
- Less natural appearance. While dentures have come a long way in recent years, they’re still considered a less natural looking tooth replacement option when compared to implants.
A dental implant serves as an artificial tooth root. The implant—which is a titanium screw—is inserted into the jawbone, where it serves as an anchor for replacement teeth. Some benefits of dental implants include:
- Durability. With proper care, dental implants can last a long time—up to 20 years or even a lifetime.
- Natural appearance. Implants function like your own teeth, so they have a natural appearance. In comparison, dentures often look and feel bulky.
- Ease of maintenance. Implants are not removable and require no special maintenance beyond standard good oral hygiene practices, like regular brushing and flossing.
Some potential drawbacks of choosing dental implants as a tooth replacement option include:
- Expense. When compared to dentures, dental implants are a more costly—though longer lasting—investment. Because implants are often considered a cosmetic dentistry procedure, they’re not as likely as dentures to be covered by insurance.
- More invasive. The process of implanting the titanium screw into the jawbone is surgical, and thus, more invasive than getting dentures. The length of the implant process varies greatly depending on many factors; the average length from start to completion is five to six months, but it can take a year or more.
If you’re suffering from tooth loss and would like to discuss replacement options, contact your dentist today. We’d welcome the opportunity to allow you to smile with confidence once again!