Dentures Vs. Implants: 4 Key Considerations

In 700 BC, the Etruscans invented the first set of dentures to replace missing human teeth. Since then, dental science has continued to evolve, transforming dentures from primitive appliances into natural-looking tooth replacements. Surprisingly, dental implants have been around nearly as long as dentures, as the Mayans used animal bones, shells, and other materials to replace missing teeth. Although these early implants restored some function and improved a person's appearance, they were not nearly as advanced as the implants available today. Dentures and dental implants are both great options for replacing missing teeth, but they are not interchangeable. If you're trying to decide whether to get dentures or implants, be sure to review this list of considerations first.

1. Convenience

When it comes to convenience, dental implants are the clear winner. Once the implants are in place, they can last a lifetime with proper oral hygiene and regular dental care. In contrast, dentures must be replaced regularly, approximately every five to 10 years. Additionally, dentures also need to be relined every time there is a change in the shape of the mouth. Relining is also necessary when normal wear and tear cause a set of dentures to stop fitting properly. Finally, you'll need to soak your dentures daily to keep them in good shape.

2. Age

When choosing between dentures and implants, your age is definitely a consideration, especially when it comes to comparing the potential costs. A 30-year-old who loses a tooth in an auto accident may live for another 50 years. In this case, getting a dental implant is more cost-effective in the long run, as the implant is likely to last for the rest of the person's life. In contrast, a 70-year-old with a missing tooth may only live for another 10 years. Since a well-made pair of dentures can last up to 10 years, it may be more cost-effective to get a partial denture instead of a dental implant.

3. Health Status

Dental implants are an excellent option for many patients, but they are not for everyone. Implants are not appropriate for anyone who has experience of a recent stroke or heart attack, a history of radiation therapy to the jaw bone, or an inability to keep his or her implants free of plaque due to reduced mental capacity or a lack of hand-eye coordination. People with untreated gum disease, oral cancer, or psychological disorders are also poor candidates for dental implants. Additionally, people taking drugs to suppress the immune system should not get dental implants, as immune suppressants result in slow wound healing and an increased risk of infection. If any of these apply to you, dentures may be a bitter fit for your circumstances.

4. Fit Issues

Although dentures have improved millions of people's lives, fit issues are a common problem. Upper dentures are affixed to the palate with adhesive, while lower dentures sit on the gums and are held in place with the muscles of the mouth. As a result, they can slip out of place while you are talking, chewing, or even kissing a loved one. In contrast, dental implants consist of an artificial tooth root topped with a crown. The artificial root is implanted in the jaw bone, securing the crown in place and preventing it from slipping.

Dentures and dental implants are both excellent options if you need to replace a missing tooth, but only you can decide which one is right for your lifestyle and your budget. If you need help deciding, talk to a dentist in your area. Following a thorough examination, an experienced dental professional can let you know if you are a candidate for implants or if dentures would be the better choice for your particular situation.