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Dentures vs. Implants

For people who have a lack of teeth due to trauma, tooth decay, periodontal disease, or other reasons capable of producing tooth loss, nowadays, there are different dental options that can easily replace missing teeth with the help and support of the surrounding soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity. The main options include dentures and implants.

What are dentures?

Dentures, also known as false teeth, are prosthetic devices used to replace missing teeth. These replacements can be taken out and put back into the mouth by the patient. Although dentures need some time for the individual to get used to them, today´s prosthetics have a very natural look and are more comfortable than ever.

Dentures can be divided into two types: complete and partial. The first ones are made for those individuals who need to replace the entire set of upper or lower teeth, while the second ones, also called dental bridges, are used to replace only one or a few missing teeth (1, 2, 3).

What are the benefits of dentures?

As stated above, although dentures can sometimes generate some uncomfortable issues to the patient using them, these provide several benefits capable of making life easier, including:

· Increased self-esteem and confidence.

· Improved appearance and smile.

· Increased support of the facial muscles.

· Reduced problems in eating some type of foods.

· Improved speech capacity.

· Reduced problems for its cleaning.

· Covered by most dental insurance providers.

What are the difficulties with dentures?

Usually, when people begin using dentures, getting used to them can take some time. Some other times, different problems or difficulties can appear, especially if it is the first pair of dentures. Some of these issues include:

· Difficulty while eating some foods, such as nuts, seeds, and sticky foods.

· Reduction in the sense of taste and perception of heat and cold when using upper-arch dentures.

· Difficulty while speaking due to the foreign object sensation in the mouth.

· Reduction in the chewing power and jaw stability.

· Gums irritation.

· Denture slippage when smiling, laughing, coughing, talking or eating.

· Continuous bone loss due to the lack of teeth.

· Cleaning difficulties.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are metal or titanium posts or frames that are surgically positioned into the jawbone under the gums, replacing the root. Once placed, the dental professional mounts the replacement teeth onto them. Due to its implantation in the jawbone, dental implants provide great stability and support for artificial teeth (4, 5).

Typically, dental implants have three parts (6):

1. The implant, or screw that replaces the root.

2. The abutment, the connector that supports the placed artificial teeth.

3. The crown, the part of the artificial tooth that can be seen.

What are the benefits of dental implants?

Nowadays, with the dental technology available, dental professionals are able to work with better products regarding implants, providing several positive effects to the patients. Some of these benefits include:

· Improved appearance, self-esteem, and natural look.

· Improved speech capacity.

· Improved comfort, convenience, and stability.

· Easier eating.

· Improved bite force.

· Increased oral health.

· Reduction in the risk of developing cavities.

· Increased support of adjacent teeth.

· Reduction in bone loss.

· Increased prosthetic durability.

What are the difficulties with dental implants?

Although dental implants provide several different benefits to the patients, most of the problems produced by them can appear in the first stages after the surgical procedure is made. These difficulties include:

· Infection at the implant site.

· Allergic reaction.

· Damage to the adjacent structures.

· Nerve damage.

· Insufficient bone support.

· Sinus complications when placing upper jaw dental implants.

Which one is better, dentures or dental implants?

Is very common for individuals with missing teeth to ask this question to their dental professionals. Although there can be various answers, depending on each person, the question needs to be answered considering different aspects, such as:

Cost. Maybe this is the main difference between these two types of prosthetics and the one factor that pushes patients to one direction and not to the other one. With complete dentures costing from $1000 to $3500 without insurance to having dental implants ranging from $1500 to $6000 per tooth, it is logical to understand the individuals that choose dentures over implants.

Maintenance. As stated above, dentures need daily and routine maintenance since the beginning to maintain the prosthetics as best as possible. On the other hand, dental implants only need normal dental care of the surrounding structures. At the end of the day, it is just a matter of routine.

Convenience. This is probably the main factor that supports people´s decision of choosing dental implants over dentures. While dentures provide a foreign body sensation that can be very annoying for many people, dental implants go unnoticed most of the time, causing very little problems during day-to-day life.

Permanent solution. While dentures can loosen up and lose stability due to the continuous bone loss, leading to its renewal and substitution, dental implants can go all the way, needing just a few check-ups once in a while and normal dental care.

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