Patients who have lost or missing teeth have to make a decision. How can I fill in the gap in my mouth? Are dentures or dental implants best for my mouth?
There is no clear-cut answer to the question. The answer depends on a number of factors that are different for every patient. To make the decision, patients need to learn the basics of dentures and dental implants and compare the pros and cons. Ultimately, a dentist can help you decide whether dentures or dental implants are right for your health and mouth.
Dentures are dental appliances made to fill the gap left by a tooth or multiple teeth. Today’s permanent dentures typically last more than five years and are made specifically for the patient’s mouth.
When a tooth is lost of taken out, an immediate denture may be used to temporarily to fill the gap. These immediate dentures may not be a perfect fit because oral tissue heals and changes over time, but they do eliminate the embarrassment of missing teeth. Within 8 to 12 weeks of the lost tooth, the dentist makes a mold of the patient’s mouth for the permanent dentures.
Once the area around the lost tooth has healed, the permanent dentures are ready for use and should be worn with a dental adhesive. The adhesive helps keep the permanent dentures in place. Usually, dentists recommend patients wear permanent dentures for 24 hours while they adjust to the dental appliances. Eventually, the dentures should be removed at night. Dentures can be brushed just like other teeth (but not with toothpaste; there are specific steps that should be taken to clean dentures. Dentists take several steps to ensure that the permanent dentures are a good fit. Most patients still need to make small adjustments when speaking to accommodate the dentures.
Pros: Other people don’t notice missing teeth, Initial cost is less than implants, Works for patients with weak jaw and gum tissue, Keeps other teeth around the dentures in place
Cons: Dentures may not stay in place, Patients need to adjust to dentures and learn to clean them, Dentures need to be replaced periodically, Cost of new dentures and dental adhesive can add up
Dental implants are posts that are surgically implanted into the jaw bone. These “fake teeth” can last 20 years or more and look just like regular teeth. Over time, the post fuses to the jaw bone and a dentist attaches a porcelain crown to the post. The result looks just like normal tooth. Patients care for the implant just like other teeth with regular brushing and flossing.
Because a strong jawbone and tissue is needed for implantation, a dentist needs to examine a patient to see if they are a good candidate for dental implants.
Pros: Implants look like regular teeth, Dental implants can last 20 years or more, Keeps other teeth around the implants in place, Don’t need to deal with ill-fitting issues of dentures, May not be covered by dental insurance
Cons: Upfront cost is far more than dentures, Dental implants are cared for just like regular teeth, May not be an option for patients with weak jawbone and gum tissue