Restoring your confidence in your smile.
Your teeth are versatile tools that do everything from helping you eat and speak to helping you express a wide range of emotions to other people.
Modern dentistry has several treatment options that allow you to protect your oral health, restore the function of your teeth, and even regain a naturally beautiful smile. These benefits work together to restore your confidence in your smile, allowing you to enjoy yourself without worrying about your teeth.
Dental implants and dentures can both be used to restore all or most of your teeth, but with so many differing opinions to sift through on the internet, discovering which treatment is best for you can seem overwhelming. The truth is that these treatments are both effective and each has its own benefits and downsides; which treatment is best varies based on the individual. We’ve put together a comparison of implants and dentures to help you determine which is best for you.
How do implants and dentures work?
Dental implants consist of a titanium rod that is embedded directly into your jaw to take the place of your natural tooth root, and a tooth prosthesis. They can be fitted with a dental crown to replace a single tooth, a dental bridge to replace three or four teeth, and dentures to replace a full arch of teeth. This makes them an incredibly flexible treatment that can be adjusted to meet each patient’s needs. When you receive dental implants, your restoration is permanently fixed to your jawbone—which means even implant-supported dentures don’t need to be taken out at night.
Traditional dentures consist of prosthetic teeth and gums made from a resin and acrylic plastic material. Partial dentures are used to replace multiple missing teeth in a row. They’re often fixed in place using metal clasps attached to the back of the healthy teeth located on either side of the gap in your smile. Full dentures can replace all of your teeth and are held securely in place by suction. Partial and full dentures are both removable and are meant to be taken out when you go to sleep.
How natural do they look?
Whether you get an implant, implant-supported dentures, or traditional dentures, you’re able to choose the size, shape, and shade of your new teeth. This customization process prevents your dentures from looking like they’ve come off an assembly line, giving your new smile a unique, natural appearance that you’ll love. The materials used in your dentures will also help them to look incredibly natural, matching the gloss of natural teeth as well as their color. No one will realize you have dentures unless you tell them.
What is the process of getting implants or dentures?
Getting dental implants involves multiple surgical procedures over the course of six to eight months. Dr. Miedema will place the metal rods in your jaw during your first procedure, after which you’ll need to allow the bone to heal and grow around the implants for several months before you can undergo the second procedure. Once you’ve healed enough, Dr. Miedema will perform a second procedure to attach abutments to your new tooth roots and take a mold of your mouth. This mold will be used to design your dentures to ensure that they fit properly. You’ll heal for several weeks before undergoing a final procedure to secure your new dentures in place.
Traditional dentures take less time than dental implants do, though exactly how long will depend on how many adjustments need to be made to your dentures. Generally, however, it takes several weeks and multiple visits to our office to receive your completed dentures. Dr. Miedema will use molds of your mouth to create a test pair of dentures for you, which you will come into our office to try on. It’s especially important for full removable dentures to fit well so that they stay in place easily while remaining comfortable, so you will likely need to try on several pairs of test dentures before finding a version that looks and feels great. This version will then be used to mill your permanent dentures in an outside lab, which will take a couple of weeks to arrive at our office. Once they arrive, you’ll come in for a final appointment, during which Dr. Miedema will ensure the dentures fit properly before answering any final questions you may have and sending you home with instructions on how to care for them.
What are the benefits of these treatments?
Dental implants, implant-supported dentures, and traditional dentures are all very effective treatment methods for missing teeth. They restore the function and appearance of your teeth, helping you to eat, speak, and smile naturally again. Partial dentures and implant-supported bridges keep your remaining teeth healthy by preventing them from shifting into the gap in your smile, making them easier to clean. This lowers your chances of gum disease or tooth decay impacting the health of your remaining teeth. Since dental implants mimic your natural tooth roots, they also provide an added layer of protection that traditional dentures simply can’t. When you lose natural teeth, your jaw stops receiving stimulation from your tooth roots and begins to reabsorb the bone in that spot, causing a sunken-in appearance. Dental implants, however, provide the stimulation your jawbone needs, protecting it from bone loss. This protects your face shape and keeps your jaw strong in the long-term.
Am I a candidate for implants?
Everyone qualifies for traditional dentures, but there are a few people who may not qualify for dental implants. Implants can restore minor bone loss in your jaw, but they’re also supported by bone. As a result, your jaw needs a certain level of bone density to qualify for implants. In some cases, however, bone grafts can restore enough bone to your jaw to make implants a viable treatment option. Additionally, dental implants involve multiple surgical procedures, so patients who have medical conditions that make them vulnerable to infections or slow to heal may not be a good fit for dental implants. Despite this, most people are still a good fit for dental implants. These factors impact each individual differently, so it’s always wise to ask your dentist if you’re a good fit for dental implants.
Will I be able to eat my favorite foods again?
Both implants and dentures restore the function of your teeth so that you can eat food without worrying. Traditional dentures have a bad reputation for slipping or falling out of place when you’re eating or speaking, but they shouldn’t do this if they fit well. Over time, however, bone loss in your jaw does cause your dentures to begin fitting more loosely, which can cause them to slip if it isn’t resolved. This is why it’s recommended that you take your dentures in to Dr. Miedema to be assessed and adjusted once a year.
Additionally, eating particularly sticky or crunchy foods with traditional dentures can be tricky and may pull them out of place, so you do need to be careful about what you eat. Since implant-supported dentures are rooted directly into your jaw like natural tooth roots, they function more like natural teeth than traditional dentures do. They provide the stability that you need to eat all of your favorite foods just like you would with natural teeth. This adds an extra layer of confidence and comfort to implant-supported dentures for many patients.
How do I care for my implants or dentures?
Since implants and implant-supported dentures are permanently fixed, they don’t need to be removed at night—you can simply go about your usual oral hygiene routine. Traditional dentures do require more involved care, as they need to be removed at night, cleaned carefully to avoid damaging them, and kept in water or denture solution when they’re not in your mouth so that they don’t dry out. These steps are relatively simple, however, and easy to add to your nightly routine. Due to continued bone loss in your jaw, traditional dentures also need to be adjusted every year to ensure they continue fitting well and, on average, need to be replaced every five to eight years. In contrast, dental implants last a lifetime, though the dentures attached to them may need to be replaced every once in a while due to wear and tear.
How much does each treatment option cost?
When it comes to upfront costs, implants and implant-supported dentures cost significantly more than traditional dentures. A lot of this initial cost is due to the fact that implants require multiple surgical procedures. As time goes by, however, maintaining traditional dentures and replacing them every so often adds to their overall cost. This doesn’t mean that one is inherently better than the other as far as cost goes, but it’s important to plan for the regular maintenance of traditional dentures before you get them so you aren’t surprised later. The rest simply boils down to your budget and your personal preference.
Implant-supported dentures and traditional dentures each have their own strengths and weaknesses, but they’re both very effective at restoring the health, function, and appearance of your smile. Deciding what features you’d prefer and what fits into your budget will help you determine which treatment is right for you. If you’d like more details or an estimate on what each of these treatments would likely cost you, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Miedema at any time.