Many patients ask us what the key differences are between dentures and dental implants. These are great questions, because there are pros and cons to each option. Good decisions require good information. We are happy to discuss these pros and cons at your consultation with Dr. Brito. In general, though, we can outline several key points for you to consider.
When comparing implants to dentures, we are referring to implant-supported dentures and their more traditional counterparts. Both implants and dentures serve the function of replacing missing teeth. Aesthetically-speaking, both can provide a natural look that restores self-confidence. And both options require good ongoing care to maximize their longevity. And both traditional and implant-supported dentures are removable.
The list of differences is longer than the similarities. This is because so much of how each option serves its function of replacing missing teeth has to do with the respective basic structures. In terms of basic function, traditional dentures sit on top of the gums, while the implant-supported variety is anchored directly into the bone. This difference is important for several reasons. First, with implants anchored into the bone, patients experience less bone loss. The younger the denture patient, the more significant this point becomes.
Second, the structural difference in these two options means that while traditional dentures may look the part, they are generally rather uncomfortable for patients to wear while eating. Many denture patients resort to wearing their prosthetics in social situations only. They struggle to eat properly or without feeling self-conscious. Furthermore, eating crunchy or chewy foods—including meats and vegetables—becomes more difficult, which ultimately results in poor nutrition. Poor nutrition leads to weakened immune systems, more illnesses, and potentially additional problems with overall bone density.
Third, longevity in these two options can vary greatly. While both involve a prosthetic that requires proper care, because the implants themselves are generally long-lasting, and patients are not as reliant on their gums for a proper fit, the implant-supported option usually lasts longer with fewer adjustments needed. And because those implants maintain proper bone levels, we do not see the shifting in gum tissue that renders traditional dentures painful and ill-fitting.
Clearly, there is a lot to consider here. Though implant-supported dentures have a lot of benefits, there are a couple of drawbacks, too. First, not everyone is a candidate for the implants. Patients who have been in traditional dentures for awhile often ask about switching, but if enough bone loss has already taken place, there won’t be enough bone to support the titanium posts.
Second, there is a cost factor. While price can vary slightly depending on how high-end of a denture you are looking for, there is no denying that on the front end, the implant-supported option will always be more expensive because of the implants themselves. However, even within the question of cost, we must look at the up-front expense as well as the long-term costs of redoing the dentures, costs to one’s health of dealing with bone loss and difficulty getting proper nutrition, and so on.
Our best advice is always the same: schedule a complimentary consultation so we can look at your specific case and do as much research on your options so you can come in prepared with good questions to ask. Ultimately, the choice is yours. We are here to help guide you through whatever path you choose.