When you have a missing tooth for any reason, whether it was extracted or was a baby tooth with no adult tooth underneath it, it’s important to replace it. A prompt replacement can help preserve your jawbone, restore your smile, and ensure you feel as confident as possible. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you have a missing tooth, as almost 70% of adults who are between 35 and 44 have at least one tooth missing.
However, it can be confusing to sort through all of your options when it comes to replacing your missing tooth. Two of the most common solutions are dentures and dental implants. What are the key differences between them, and which could be right for your needs?
The Installation Process
One of the biggest differences between dentures and dental implants is the installation procedure. When you have an implant placed in your mouth, you need to ensure that you have enough jawbone to support the structure. At the start of the process, your tooth will be extracted if it is not already gone. If there is a root left behind, that root will also be taken out.
Next, a post will be placed in the jawbone. This will serve the same purpose that your tooth roots did, and it will be made of titanium so that it can last the rest of your life. Once this has had a chance to heal, a crown will be placed. Just like crowns that sit on top of a root canal, this will be customized to match the rest of your teeth and look as seamless as possible. Depending on the condition of your bone and how quickly you heal, this process can take weeks or months to complete.
Dentures are another common solution for missing teeth. Just like dental implants, they are customized to match your existing smile. Depending on your needs, dentures can be used to replace all of the teeth on your upper or lower jaw or simply replace a couple of missing teeth using a partial denture. During the process, a custom mold will be made of your gums or the area you need new teeth.
Once this mold has been made, a set of dentures will be crafted for your needs. These will be fit to your mouth by your dentist and refit as needed over time to ensure your comfort. You will need to take the dentures in and out of your mouth and clean them, unlike a dental implant that is permanent.
The Total Cost
Another difference between dentures and dental implants is how much the procedure costs from start to finish. Dental implants can cost much more than a set of complete dentures. However, they allow you to preserve as many of your teeth as possible and can replace a single tooth. If you are concerned about the total cost of your dental implants or dentures, it’s a good idea to speak with your dentist and your insurance company to make sure that as much of the procedure as possible is covered.
Who They Are Appropriate For
First, it’s important to know that dentures and dental implants have been used to replace missing teeth in patients of all ages, lifestyles, and oral health conditions. If you are interested in one or the other and willing to work with your dentist, there are a few reasons why you would not be able to get either one. However, sometimes one is more appropriate than another.
Dental implants are permanent solutions, which makes them excellent for younger people who are missing teeth. You can keep your implant for the rest of your life provided you properly maintain it. Another factor when considering implants is your current jawbone density. If you do not have adequate jawbone to support the implant structure, you may need to have a bone graft done before you are eligible.
Additionally, dental implants are a great fit for people who do not want to change their lifestyles. When you have an implant, you can use it virtually the same as you would a normal tooth. Dentures, however, can require adaptation in terms of your diet and your oral care routine.
How to Maintain Them
Because dental implants function virtually the same as your teeth and are permanently installed in your mouth, you do not need to worry about taking them out or adjusting them. You will brush and clean them the same that you do the surrounding teeth. The only change that you will need to make is using a special floss designed to get under the surface of the crown.
Dentures, however, require a greater adjustment to your lifestyle. You will need to soak them in a cleaning solution on a daily basis. Additionally, you may need to remove them after eating to get rid of any extra food. As your mouth and jawbone change, the dentures will also likely need to be refitted by your dentist.
Another factor that is considered when choosing between dentures and dental implants is whether or not it will preserve your jawbone density. Unfortunately, dentures are not an effective way to stop your jawbone from degrading. If you are young, this can mean drooping or sagging in your face prematurely. Dental implants will preserve your bone structure and help you avoid any premature aging signs.