Partial or full dentures were long the only option to replace missing teeth. Today, though, dental implants offer a new choice. Dentures rest on the gums and are often unstable, while dental implants actually replace the tooth roots, providing a secure and supportive base for replacement teeth. Here is what you should know.
Existing Dental Health
While virtually anyone can become a candidate for dental implants, there are many reasons that it could take some time. Dental implants can only be placed in a mouth that is clean and healthy, with strong jawbone. If you have any existing oral health issues, they must be addressed before dental implants are placed. Likewise, many dentists prefer to allow the mouth to heal from extractions before placing implants.
If you do not have sufficient jawbone to support dental implants, you might need a bone graft. Depending on your individual circumstances, you might also need a sinus lift or other restructuring. In addition, if you have an underlying health condition such as diabetes or a bleeding disorder, it must be tightly managed.
For these reasons, many people wear dentures for a period of time, even if dental implants are the selected long-term option. Your dentist will work hard to craft a set of well-fitted dentures that allow you to speak and eat normally during the interim.
Dental implant prices are dropping, and more insurance companies are now covering them. Still, they remain significantly more expensive up front than dentures. When amortized over a lifetime, dental implants are actually less costly, but many people have trouble affording the initial expense. Talk to your dentist about breaking up work over time to maximize your insurance benefits, or consider a mid-range option such as implant-supported removable dentures. With a far lower price tag than fixed solutions, implant-supported dentures restore most of the functionality of natural teeth.
Today’s higher-end dentures are incredibly realistic, but many people feel that anything removable is less aesthetic than real teeth. In addition, unsupported dentures can shift and slide during speaking, laughing, or eating. Partial dentures use clasps to connect to the natural teeth, which may show when the mouth is open. For these reasons, dental implants are far more aesthetic than dentures.
Dentures rest solely on the gums. If they slip or rub, they can create sore spots. These problems are heightened when eating crunchy, chewy, or tough foods. Integrated into the jawbone, dental implants lock the teeth in place, preventing these sore spots from emerging.
Strength and Stability
Many people find that they have to give up certain foods when they get dentures, from steak to corn on the cob. Traditional dentures restore only about 25 percent of natural bite strength, and slipping can make chewing difficult. Stable and secure implants restore better than 90 percent of natural bite strength and prevent slipping, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with ease.
Future Oral Health
When teeth are removed, the jawbone and gum tissue begin to resorb into the body. Over time, this natural process can cause the face to appear sunken, promote wrinkles, and cause carefully fitted dentures to become loose. Dentures can also cause chronic sores in the mouth, and even inflammation known as dental stomatitis. These problems can make your dentures uncomfortable and put you at risk for gum disease. Dental implants resemble natural tooth roots, halting and even reversing bone loss and reducing your risk for sores and inflammation.