You are ready to get your smile back, but which treatment is right for you? For many adults looking to replace missing teeth, the choice typically comes down to dentures versus dental implants — both of which have pro's and con's.
To find out which option is best, ask yourself these key questions:
1. How healthy is my mouth?
Your oral health is the primary factor that determines which treatments are even possible. While dentures are a viable solution for virtually everyone, dental implants are only recommended for individuals with a strong jaw and healthy gums due to the invasive surgery required for the procedure. Smoking, substantial bone loss, as well as allergies may further impact one's candidacy for dental implants. Additionally, diabetes and other medical conditions can affect the dental implant healing process.
2. What does my budget allow?
Because surgery is involved, dental implants are more expensive than dentures, but are a more permanent solution. A complete set of dentures will be much more affordable, but usually requires reshaping or replacement over time. If only one or two teeth are missing, partial dentures could be an alternative, and this is even less expensive.
3. Am I willing to undergo surgery?
Neither procedure happens overnight, but dental implants do require surgery and a longer treatment period. While dentures can take up to several weeks from point of examination to impressions, molding and fitting, dental implants require drilling into the jaw and healing time for the implant to fuse with the bone. It can also take up to several months before the prosthetic is fixed onto the implant.
Initial discomfort is not uncommon for both procedures, as your mouth gets acclimated to its new teeth.
4. How much does maintenance matter?
Dental implants require minimal care aside from regular brushing and flossing, which is a big advantage of this treatment. Dentures, however, can cause infection and decay in other teeth if improperly fitted and/or if proper hygiene is not followed. Regular rinsing, brushing and soaking dentures overnight are additional steps you will need to add to your daily routine. Other issues that often challenge patients with dentures are damaged clasps, cracks, as well as looseness due to gradual bone loss.
5. Are the cosmetic differences that come with implants worth it for me?
While everyone has a different experience with dentures, common complaints include clicking noises, constant shifting or slipping (which can impair chewing and speech), a difference in taste, and bad breath.
Dental implants, on the other hand, restore the ability to chew and speak as efficiently as one would with natural teeth, without the bulky feeling commonly reported by patients with dentures. For those who want to get closer to real teeth in terms of form, function and comfort, this more than justifies the investment required for dental implants.
Regardless of which treatment you choose, replacing missing teeth boosts your oral health, improves your smile, and can help increase your confidence. Get further guidance and details on each procedure during your next check-up, or consider scheduling a separate appointment altogether for an in-depth consultation.