Dental Implants vs. Dentures: Which Is Right for Me?

March 23, 2023
dentist showing implant to patient

Both Restore Your Smile, but They’re Not for Everyone

It can be hard to go about life with missing teeth. It’s more difficult to eat, and many people lose the confident smiles they once had.

Modern restorative and prosthetic dental treatments, however, can make missing teeth a thing of the past. Two of the most common solutions for missing teeth are dental implants and partial dentures.

Keep reading to learn about these two dental prosthetic options and to find out which one may be the best for you.

What Are Dental Implants? What Are Dentures?

First things first, let’s talk about what exactly both of these prosthetic options are and what they entail.

A dental implant supports prosthetic teeth that can include a crown, a bridge, or even implanted dentures. Installing a dental implant requires oral surgery. During the surgery, your surgeon will implant a titanium post into your jaw bone. This post will anchor your prosthetic teeth and can help keep your jawbone healthy and dense, just like the roots of your natural teeth would.

When you think of dentures, you likely think of the false teeth that older people wear. The dentures people are most familiar with are removable and secured to the gums with a special adhesive. However, dentures can fill your mouth entirely, or you can get a partial denture, which replaces a few missing teeth at a time. Dental implants can hold certain types of dentures in place, so these two options can work together.

Pros and Cons of Dentures

Removable dentures are created especially for your mouth in a few office visits. This includes partial dentures that you secure to your gums using denture adhesive. Patients can customize the look of the dentures by choosing tooth size, shape, and color, and gum color. This dental prosthetic lets you get the smile you’ve always wanted – or can ensure your partial denture perfectly matches your existing natural teeth.

Dentures, especially a partial denture, can be more affordable than other prosthetics, like dental implants. If you need tooth extractions before getting dentures, you may require oral surgery to remove them.

There are downsides to wearing dentures, however. In fact, it’s better for your overall oral health to keep as many natural teeth as possible for as long as possible. Extracting many teeth can result in loss of bone density and your dental ridge – the part of your gums that help keep your dentures in place, where your teeth previously used to line up. A complete set of dentures is only recommended if you truly cannot keep any of your natural teeth, or if you are an older adult.

You also should be wary of dental offices who claim to produce “same-day dentures.” Full or partial dentures produced so quickly cannot be perfectly fitted to your mouth, and likely do not offer you opportunities for customization.

Pros and Cons of Dental Implants

Dental implants are a permanent solution to missing teeth – although if you are missing too many, you may not be a candidate for implants due to the extensive oral surgery and overall cost. As such implants are better suited for patients who need only a few prosthetics to fill in one or two missing teeth at a time.

Implants take several months to complete. This is because your gums and jaw bone must heal after damaged or unhealthy teeth are pulled and the biocompatible titanium post is implanted in your bone. However, the titanium implants help keep your bone healthy, which can help protect the longevity of your remaining natural teeth.

How Do I Know Which Is Best for Me?

The only way to determine whether you should get a full set of dentures, a partial denture, or dental implants is to schedule a consultation with your dentist or oral surgeon. Your dental professional will evaluate your oral health, examine your existing natural teeth, and determine which solution will best fit your needs, age, and budget.

It is impossible to determine which prosthetic is best for you without this in-person exam and the creation of a personalized plan, so an in-person visit is a must. It’s best to visit a dentist who has provided preventative dental care to you in the past, rather than a new dental office. This is because most reputable dental offices require you to establish care and a relationship before they’ll provide in-depth prosthetics. Get started by scheduling an oral exam and cleaning.