In the past dentures or crowns and bridges were the only options for replacing the missing teeth.
The advancements in dentistry in the past fifty years, have added implants as the third option.
We are often asked whether it is better to consider implants or go for partial dentures. The answer is not as straight forward as it would appear. Cost aside, there are a number of other aspects to be considered.
Dentures are false acrylic teeth set in a pink, gum-coloured acrylic base (the “plate”), which fits over the roof of the mouth and the gums . Some dentures can also contain metal such as chrome or titanium.
Two types of dentures are available — complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain. In the past dentures were not very comfortable to wear and looked decidedly artificial. The recent advancements in 3-D scanning and 3-D printing results in much lighter, stronger and more natural looking dentures.
The definite advantage of having dentures over implants is the upfront cost – the dentures are definitely cheaper. However one has to bear in mind that dentures need to be replaced every few year as the gums and bone recede and they no longer fit. If you add the costs of replacing them every 3 years of so, plus the cost of repairs, cleaning solutions and adhesives, the long term cost of having dentures will probably be not that far off the cost of having implants.
Another aspect of having dentures is the comfort and the potential mishaps. If not secured with denture adhesive, dentures might slip out of place while eating or speaking, which could be embarrassing, and partial dentures might promote infection and decay in other teeth if they aren’t fitted properly.
There is also the hassle of having to take them out at night to clean. However, dentures may be the best choice for people whose gums and jaw are weak or unhealthy.
Unlike dentures, dental implants serve as an actual replacement for the teeth.
A titanium or zirconium screw is implanted into the jaw bone or an implant is placed under the gum. It then serves as a pillar for the crown.
This is a long-term solution to tooth loss, as implants won’t move or slip. As opposed to dentures, they don’t require removal, special cleaning, or the use of adhesives.
As long as you care for your implants the same way that you would care for your natural teeth, a dental implant can be a lifelong solution to tooth loss. At this point in time, dental implants are considered to be the most advanced solution for missing teeth with a long-term success rate of up to 97% in some dental practices.
They are the only currently available solution that can reliably support the surrounding teeth and stimulate the natural formation of bone. So if you have relatively strong jaw bones and healthy gums, dental implants are much better long-term solution than dentures. Although dentures have a much lower initial costs, if you take into consideration the convenience, the aesthetics and the overall cost over the 15 or 20 years, dental implants are a definite winner.
Did you know?
Early versions of dental implants were used in the civilization of ancient China in 2000 BC. Carved bamboo pegs were originally used to replace the missing teeth at this time.
The first recorded case of a replacement tooth made of metal comes from the body of an Egyptian king who lived in approximately 1000 BC. His upper jawbone has a copper peg that has been hammered into it, although it is not certain if the peg was attached during his lifetime as a tooth replacement or after his death. Dental implants made out of a seashell were also found in Mayan graves.