Ready to restore your smile after tooth loss or decay? You’re probably considering a few options, including removable dentures and dental implants. Dentures are removable dental appliances that are designed to look like your natural teeth and can help make eating and talking easier after the loss of teeth.1 Implants function in a similar way, but they are surgically inserted in the mouth to replace one or more missing teeth.2 However, the differences between dentures vs. implants goes beyond removable vs. permanent—keep reading to find out more about the procedures, costs, care requirements, and other factors involved with dentures vs. implants.
Dentures can be full or partial—meaning they can replace a full set of upper or lower teeth (full dentures), or they can fill in spaces left by one or more missing teeth (partial dentures).3 Whether you’re receiving a full set of dentures or a set of partials, the process and procedure required to get your dentures is the same. After your teeth are removed, you’ll visit your dentist to have them take impressions and measurements of your mouth.3 In most cases, your dentist will be the person that takes your mouth impressions and measurements and a dental technician will be the person that actually makes the appliance.3
After measurements are taken, the procedure will depend on the type of dentures you’re getting. If you get conventional dentures, you’ll have transitional dentures for a few months until your gums and tissues heal after tooth removal. With immediate dentures, your dentist will place your removable dentures in your mouth on the same day that the teeth are removed.1 Immediate dentures can be placed immediately after tooth removal but may need to be adjusted after your gums and mouth tissues have healed.1
Getting a dental implant to replace a tooth is a surgical procedure performed by a dentist.2 The first phase of getting an implant is the surgery, during which a screw—typically made from titanium—is placed into the bone.2,4 The next step is called osseointegration, which refers to a period of time where your bone grows around the implant to keep it securely in place.2 The last step in the implant process is getting the artificial tooth placed on the implant.2 This artificial tooth is called a crown.2 Depending on your individual situation, you may be able to have your implant surgically placed and the crown attached during the same dentist visit, or you need to wait up to a few months for the osseointegration process to be complete.2 The length of your implant procedure varies depends on your specific situation—talk to your dentist to get more details about your procedure’s timeline, and which procedure is best for you.
Caring for your dentures is not so different from caring for your natural teeth—practicing good oral hygiene habits is essential.1 Clean your dentures daily by rinsing off food and other debris in between meals.1 After rinsing, using a non-abrasive denture cleanser and soft bristle toothbrush, gently brush every surface of your removable dentures.1 When your dentures are not in your mouth, store them in water to prevent warping.1
After your surgical procedure, your dentist will give you specific aftercare instructions. But when it comes to long-term implant care, cleaning your implants will be similar to cleaning your natural teeth.4 Part of caring for your implants is making sure they don’t get damaged. If you play sports or participate in other activities that may include contact with moving objects, talk to your dentist about getting a mouthguard to wear to help protect your implants.4
When considering dentures vs. implants, comfort is one additional factor to consider. It may take some time to get used to eating and speaking with dentures.3 Length of use is a second factor to consider—if cared for properly, your removable dentures should last up to several years.3 Implants, on the other hand, are generally considered a longer-term solution.4
It’s difficult to directly compare the cost of dentures vs. implants, since every individual’s situation is different. When considering the potential costs of a dental procedure, talk to your dentist and your insurance provider to find out more about what can be covered by insurance and what your options for payment are.
Dentures and dental implants are not the only two options out there for replacing missing or lost teeth. A third popular option is getting a fixed bridge.5 A bridge fills in the space in your smile where one or multiple teeth are missing. During the procedure, your dentist will take impressions and measurements of your mouth and then have the bridge made.5 Once created, the bridge will be placed over the neighboring natural teeth and then cemented in place. A bridge should look and feel like your natural teeth and does not need to be removed to be cleaned.5
When it comes to replacing missing teeth and restoring your smile, advances in dental technology have created a number of possibilities. Talk to your doctor about dentures vs. implants to figure out which is the best option for you.
- Dentures. MouthHealthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/i/implants. Accessed 8/4/2022.
- Implants. MouthHealthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/i/implants. Accessed 8/4/2022.
- Dentures. Oral Health Foundation. https://www.dentalhealth.org/dentures. Accessed 8/4/2022.
- Implants. Oral Health Foundation. https://www.dentalhealth.org/dental-implants. Accessed 8/4/2022.
- Tooth Replacement Options. ADA. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/ADA_PatientSmart_Tooth_ Replacement.ashx. Accessed 8/4/2022.