Bonding and sealants. Crowns and bridges. Preventative dentistry and dental cleanings.
When it comes to dentistry jargon, many services and procedures can be easily confused with another. Yet, dental implants and dentures are probably the most commonly misunderstood terms.
Dr. Dental’s team of dentists, hygienists, oral care technicians, and other dental implant service members receive all sorts of questions from our patients. However, “What’s the difference between dentures and dental implants” might be the most frequent query.
For a patient that’s a candidate for either procedure, a popular follow-up question is, “Which one is right for me?”
Great questions – and we have the answers!
The Need for Implants and Dentures
Implants and dentures are different solutions for common problems: chipped, cracked or missing teeth. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, approximately 35 million Americans are missing all teeth in either the upper or lower jaws. Another study concluded that nearly three-quarters of all U.S. adults have at least one damaged or missing tooth, due to a variety of reasons – gum disease, poor dental habits, accidents and more.
Based on those statistics, there’s a good chance that someone in your family or circle of friends is missing most of their teeth, or have a few damaged or cracked teeth.
With such a pressing need to correct cosmetic defects and serious functional issues (chewing, swallowing, etc.), it’s not hard to see why dental implants and dentures are so common – and popular! But what distinguishes implants from dentures?
Implants and Dentures – Key Differences
The best way to think about dental implants and dentures is through the “permanent vs temporary” filter. Dental implants are actually secured to the jawbone with a metal (usually threaded post). After this post has stabilized, a tooth (or section of teeth) is permanently attached to the post. Dental implants are more or less fixed in place.
Dentures, meanwhile, can be inserted and removed at will. The “base” of the denture is designed to fit in a particular patient’s gums and mouth. Everyone has a slightly different jawbone structure, so dentures are usually custom-made. To help hold them in place – remember, dentures aren’t secured like implants – an adhesive gel is used to keep dentures from moving around.
Let’s look at the advantages of both implants and dentures:
- Permanent fixture (unlike dentures, implants have rock-solid stability)
- Fewer dietary restrictions
- More natural food taste (no adhesive gel required)
- Best alternative for replacing tooth’s natural roots
- High success rate
- Promote structural integrity of teeth, gums, jaw, etc.
- More affordable
- No surgery required
- Easy to remove and clean
- Many customization options available
- Easy adjustments – better option to accommodate further tooth decay, changes in the gum line, etc.
Each tooth replacement method has its own unique benefits. If you have missing or damaged teeth, which one should you opt for? It’s always best to consult with your dentist or oral surgeon first. Deciding on implants or dentures can be based on age, physical condition, income, diet, and other factors.
Oral hygiene and family oral health history are two other important factors when considering implants vs dentures. For example, if your parents or grandparents experienced tooth decay and found success with implants instead of dentures (or vice versa), this information can help you choose the best possible option.