The lack of one or more teeth probably affects your everyday life. One of the perks of living in the modern world is that we can avail of certain dental treatments that weren’t available in the past. When it comes to tooth loss, there are two major restoration options to choose from - dental implants and removable dentures.
It’s understandable that you're struggling to pick between the two. They both work in different ways and have their own advantages and downsides. But don’t worry. This post will be comparing dentures and implants for missing teeth in more detail so you know what to do next. Read on.
How to Pick Between Implants and Dentures for Missing Teeth
There are a few factors to bear in mind when replacing missing teeth.
- Enough bone density. If you experience bone loss because of periodontitis or physical trauma, it's likely you don’t have enough jawbone tissue to hold the implant posts to the gums. This may affect your eligibility for dental implants. You will still be a good candidate for dentures, though.
- Age. Age is a huge determining factor in whether you should get implants or dentures after tooth loss. Older adults might not be okay with the invasive and cumbersome dental implant procedure. Dentures are likely to be their preferred option. At the same time, many patients under the age of 60 seek a permanent solution, such as dental implants.
- Feel and function. Another aspect you need to consider is comfort on gums. In this case, dental implants have the upper hand because they don’t slip or fall during chewing.
- Personal preferences. And lastly, you should pick based on your preferences.
Dental implants are prosthetic teeth employed to replace missing teeth permanently. They feel like natural teeth and do not require that the surrounding structures be filed down.
An implant usually consists of a crown, abutment and metal prosthetic root, which mimics the tooth root. The latter is also called implant post.
Advantages of Dental Implants
To start with, the success rate of the treatment is 90%-95%.
Second, as opposed to dental bridges, each titanium dental implant blends with the jawbone. There is no need for support from the teeth adjacent to it. Therefore, no damage is done to the remaining teeth.
Third, dental implants don’t need replacement (unlike dentures).
Next up, they look like real teeth, helping with your self-esteem. Plus, dental implants make eating easy again and there is no risk of them slipping around as opposed to slipping dentures.
And finally, implants help you prevent jawbone deterioration. Without them, you can experience facial collapse of the jaw and facial muscles. What does that mean?
If you have a missing tooth, the body detects it pretty quickly and starts to use the minerals in this part of the jaw elsewhere. Now, this creates a bigger gap in the area.
Soon enough, the adjacent teeth will begin to lean toward the empty space, leading to facial collapse. That's why many patients give implants a go. But as we said before, it's not the right solution for everyone.
Disadvantages of Dental Implants
- The treatment takes multiple appointments
- There may be upper or lower jaw bone fractures that could also affect adjacent teeth
- Prolonged bleeding is possible, although rare
- Risk of infection is associated with every surgical procedure; with implants, it occurs around the jaw bone
- Although the success rate is quite high, there's still room for dental implant rejection; around 5%-10% of dental implants are unsuccessful
Procedure for Dental Implants
The dentist will start by examining your teeth to ensure you are a good fit for dental implants. Lab tests and scans will be ordered to verify you have sufficient bone density and good oral health.
On that note, if you have cavities or tartar, they will need to be fixed before the treatment begins.
At your next visit, your gum tissue will be prepped and the implant post will be mounted to the jawbone. Since it takes time for the prosthetic tooth root to fuse to the jawbone, you will have to wait for a few weeks before your next appointment.
The process is termed osseointegration and describes the bone tissue growth around the implants over time. This allows for a better and stronger grip on the post, ensuring that your new tooth will not fall out the moment you bite into food. It is one of the most essential steps of the treatment.
Once the osseointegration is complete, the gums are reopened so that the abutment can be attached. Some specialists like to place the post and abutment in one go but that depends on many factors and may not apply to every case.
The abutment protrudes from the gums and serves as a link between the dental crown and the implant post.
At this point, another healing process kicks off.
On the final appointment, the orthodontist cements the last part of the implant - the supporting crowns - to the abutment.
Cost of Dental Implants
With dental implants, you will be paying more than $2,000 per single dental implant and the price typically excludes consultation, bone graft ($230+), CT scans, and follow-up sessions.
The bill is affected by:
- The number and type of teeth you need to replace (canine, molars, etc.)
- Type of material for the crown (porcelain, ceramic, etc.)
- Type of surgery needed prior to the treatment (bone graft, sinus cavity lift, etc.)
- The clinic you choose - general dentists charge less for their services
The good news is that you can claim a portion of the funds required for your dental implant procedure from your MediSave account. This is one of the few dental treatments covered by the national medical savings scheme.
Maintenance of Implants
When you finish your implant journey, you should treat the prostheses in the same fashion you do natural teeth. Daily brushing and flossing are your go-to routines. There are no adjustment sessions to worry about. You don’t have to take them out before meals or bedtime.
All in all, you ought to care for the implants the same way you do your existing teeth without the need for any special treatments.
Dentures: Removable Appliances
If you have a few missing teeth, other tooth replacement options include dentures. This is an oral appliance that can replace all the teeth (full dentures, complete dentures) or a few teeth only (partial dentures).
There are lower and upper dentures. They function just like natural teeth, the only difference is they are removable.
Advantages of Dentures
- Dentures have become more comfortable over time
- They are made to fit your mouth
- You can enjoy more foods than you did before (certain restrictions may be imposed)
Cons of Dentures
- One of the cons of dentures is you should not wear them at night
- They have to be removed and cleaned on the regular
- They don’t look and function quite like natural teeth
- You should avoid certain foods
- Dentures can make it hard to eat
- They should be adjusted or replaced every few years
- They don't reduce the risk of jawbone deterioration
Procedure for Dentures
With dentures, impressions of your teeth will be taken on both the first and second visit for better accuracy.
You’ll also be doing a wax bite, which is exactly what the name suggests - basically, the dentist will put pre-heated wax inside your mouth and ask you to bite into it. This is an important stage of getting the bites correct.
At your next appointment, you will be able to try the wax mock-up of your denture to check if it’s comfortable wearing. If you don’t like the overall feel or there is something hurting, this is the best moment to speak up, as changes can still be made at this point.
On your final visit, you will receive your brand new dentures. This is the final product.
Cost of Dentures
The cost of full dentures is in the realm of $600 to $800 per entire arch but it’s not uncommon for patients to pay as much as $2,000 per arch in some clinics in Singapore.
Partial dentures run between $200 and $450 per entire arch, lab fees are excluded.
MediSave is not claimable for oral health treatments that don’t involve surgery. Therefore, you will have to cover the cost of the entire procedure out of pocket.
Maintenance of Partial Denture and Full Denture
Dentures need to be adjusted every few years. As soon as you notice they no longer fit as well as they did before, you should talk to your dentist about your options. Sometimes, dentures are replaced.
Another thing to take into account is that you should not wear dentures at night. It's best to store them in a glass full of denture cleanser or plain water.
You should also clean them carefully after each use so they can last you longer. Last but not least, don't forget that your natural teeth still need proper care.