If you’re missing teeth or have been told you need various procedures, you’re probably busy weighing the pros and cons of dental implants or dentures. Although the end result is the same — a beautiful smile — the choice that’s right for you depends on several factors. Here is what you need to know about dentures or implants, and why one — but not the other — may be the better decision.
Dentures, also known as false teeth, are fitted to a mouthpiece that is affixed to the gums with denture adhesive. They can take some time to get used to, and your dentist may recommend soft foods as well as practicing speaking for the first several weeks. Sometimes, even in those who have worn false teeth for a long time, dentures shift during eating and speaking, causing discomfort. They can also cause tooth decay in the healthy teeth that are next to the dentures, in the case of a partial set that is not properly fitted. For most people, dentures are not the best option for these reasons; however, those with a weak jaw or unhealthy gums might find dentures to be a promising option.
Dentures have come a long way since the days of bone and ivory. In fact, today’s dentures are stronger and more natural looking than ever before. Although the quality of dentures has improved significantly, if your dentist suggests getting fitted for a set of false teeth instead of implants, be sure you understand the reasons why. In general, dentures can cause further damage to surrounding teeth and gums because they make the nearby areas more susceptible to decay.
Dental implants are natural looking false teeth that your dentist will surgically install into your jaw. With proper home maintenance and regular visits to the dentist, your implant can last for decades. Unlike dentures that are normally used to replace several teeth, you can opt to get only one or two implants, making them a popular choice. They don’t require adhesive but can only be used with healthy jaws and gums. In general, dentists prefer implants because they provide a more comfortable, natural option for patients who need tooth replacement — they also won’t damage surrounding teeth or gums.
They sound perfect, right? Unfortunately, implants — despite their clear benefits over dentures — are expensive and many insurance plans won’t cover the entire cost, according to the New York Times. Nevertheless, implants, for the right candidates, offer a potentially lifelong solution that is comfortable, durable and safe.
If you are a good candidate for implants but your insurance coverage is minimal, ask your provider to use the denture allowance toward the implant instead. Also, if you use an in-network dentist, the cost for dental implants may be less than you think.