All of us do things to change our appearance, from wearing makeup, to cutting and dying our hair, to more extreme and permanent measures like getting tattoos or cosmetic surgery. However, these are choices we make in order to improve appearance. When things like accident or illness happen that are beyond our control, and appearance changes as a result, it can be understandably upsetting.
Losing teeth is unsettling, whether you have an accident or injury that knocks a tooth loose or you suffer from serious tooth decay or gum disease that causes tooth loss. After a lifetime spent with your teeth, you naturally start to think of them as fairly permanent fixtures, and losing one can not only leave you trying to readjust your eating habits, but also dealing with confidence issues related to your appearance.
The good news is, there are treatment options to address both the function and form of your mouth following tooth loss. Two popular choices for tooth replacement are dentures and dental implants. What’s the difference? Why would you choose one over the other? Here are a few things to consider before selecting the tooth replacement option that’s right for you.
What are Dentures? In some ways, dentures and dental implants are similar. Both feature a false tooth that sits where a real tooth once did. The main difference lies in how they are attached. Dentures are a removable dental fixture with a false tooth attached to an acrylic base that mimics the look of gum tissue.
In cases where there are still existing natural teeth, dentures will be anchored to surrounding teeth with metal clasps to hold them in place. In some cases, they come attached to a lightweight, metal framework for extra stability. After all, you want them to stay in place when you eat, drink, talk, and laugh.
If all the upper or lower teeth have been lost, a full set of dentures will fill in your smile. However, with no teeth to anchor to, dentures will have to be held in place with products like denture adhesives. One of the biggest concerns for many people is that dentures will slip or fall out, and this is a valid fear.
Dentures must be removed for cleaning, and they shouldn’t be worn at night so your gums have a chance to recover. You’ll have to be careful what you eat when wearing dentures. Biting into an apple could pop your dentures out of place. While dentures are a good solution for preserving your appearance after tooth loss, they may not offer the most functional appeal.
What are Dental Implants? Dental implants are permanent fixtures in your mouth – unlike dentures, they are not
removable. A dental implant consists of a titanium post that is implanted in the jaw bone, as well as a dental crown, or false tooth, attached to the top.
The process for installing a dental implant is obviously more invasive than dentures, but the benefit is that you’ll have a permanent tooth that acts and looks exactly like a real tooth. The titanium post will bond with your jaw bone, providing strength and support – you’ll have no trouble biting into apples, and the only dietary restrictions are those that might also harm natural teeth, like chewing ice or hard candy.
In addition, the false tooth will seat in the gum tissue. Whereas bacteria could fester between dentures and gums, there is less risk of this with dental implants, especially since you can brush and floss normally to preserve the health of gums and surrounding teeth.
With dental implants, you can eat, drink, smile, laugh, and speak normally. You can preserve function and appearance, and never have to worry about your smile slipping out of place.
Cost and Longevity There’s no denying the cost difference between dentures and dental implants. Dentures are significantly cheaper. However, they don’t offer the same benefits or the same longevity as dental implants.
Dentures (especially full dentures) will require replacement every few years (roughly 3-6) as the jaw bone deteriorates with no teeth to support. If not replaced, dentures will eventually become ill-fitting and more likely to slip around and irritate gums during wear.
Dental implants, on the other hand, should last a lifetime. The false tooth may eventually need to be replaced, but you can reasonably expect it to last up to 20 years with proper care. In other words, dental implants are a far better choice for permanent tooth replacement.