Living with missing teeth can take a big toll on a person’s quality of life. It can make it difficult to eat and speak normally while also changing a person’s appearance. Thankfully, modern dentistry offers a wide variety of treatment options for replacing a patient’s missing teeth and restoring their smile. Two of the most popular options are dental implants and dentures. Knowing which is right for you depends on several factors.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are a permanent option for replacing missing teeth. A dental implant is implanted directly into the jawbone, making it work and feel like a natural tooth. Dental implants are comprised of three parts:

  • Implant Anchor – The implant anchor is a biocompatible metal, screw-like dental prosthetic that implants directly into the jawbone. The implant anchor acts as an artificial tooth root.
  • Implant Abutment – Also made from a biocompatible metal, the implant abutment connects the implant anchor to the dental crown.
  • Dental Implant Crown – The final piece of a dental implant is a dental crown. These are usually made from porcelain or a combination of porcelain fused with metal. The crown is the only visible portion of the dental implant, and it is custom-designed and manufactured to blend in seamlessly and fit comfortably with a patient’s surrounding teeth.

Dental implants replace teeth on a one-for-one basis where one dental implant replaces one missing tooth.

What Are Dentures?

Traditional dentures are a removable prosthetic dental device that is intended to replace entire rows of a patient’s teeth at once. Dentures are usually made from acrylic resin (a type of plastic). They are sometimes made from porcelain, but the plastic versions are actually stronger and typically longer-lasting. This tooth-replacement option consists of a portion that resembles gum tissue and an upper portion of replacement teeth.

The Pros and Cons of Dental Implants

Dental implants are a very popular option for replacing teeth. They offer many advantages:

  • Dental implants look, feel, and function just like natural teeth.
  • Dental implants stimulate the jawbone like a natural tooth’s root system. As a result, the patient’s jawbone will not deteriorate over time and change the appearance of their facial bone structure.
  • They can be cared for just like natural teeth.
  • Dental implants can be used as anchors for dental bridges and implant-supported dentures.

Dental implants have a few drawbacks:

  • The process of getting dental implants requires oral surgery.
  • Some patients also require a bone grafting procedure before they can receive an implant.
  • All in all, the process of getting a dental implant can sometimes take six months or more to complete.
  • Patients must have good oral health with no signs of periodontal disease to be a candidate for a dental implant.
  • Dental implants are typically a more expensive tooth-replacement option than traditional dentures.

The Pros and Cons of Dentures

Dentures are also a highly popular option for replacing missing teeth. While modern dentures have been vastly improved, dentures are also one of the most traditional treatments for replacing missing teeth. They offer several benefits:

  • The process of getting dentures is very quick compared to the process of getting dental implants.
  • If the patient doesn’t need any teeth extracted, then the process is also non-invasive.
  • Dentures are a simple option for replacing all or most of a patient’s teeth on the upper, lower, or both arches.
  • Dentures are also a more cost-effective tooth-replacement option.
  • Modern dental manufacturing has created dentures that are highly customized, comfortable fitting, and natural looking.

The disadvantages of traditional dentures include:

  • Dentures can take a while for a patient to get used to wearing, which means going through a period of adjustment when it might feel awkward to eat, drink, and speak normally.
  • Dentures can slip and move around in the mouth.
  • Ill-fitting dentures can cause mouth sores.
  • Dentures require the use of sticky dental adhesives to help keep them in place.
  • A patient might require one or more tooth extractions to remove their remaining teeth in order for their dentures to fit.
  • Dentures require some ongoing maintenance to ensure they continue to fit a patient comfortably.
  • Dentures do not stimulate the jawbone, resulting in the bone’s deterioration over time.

Additional Tooth-Replacement Treatment Options

There are several more tooth-replacement treatment options available in addition to dentures and dental implants. These include a variety of dental bridges with different anchor-point styles. Plus, some patients find that all-on-4 dental implants for overdentures, which are similar to dentures but are permanently affixed to a number of strategically placed dental implants, to be the right option for them.

Dental Implants vs. Dentures: Which Is Right for You?

The decision to get dental implants, dentures, or another type of tooth-replacement treatment is a highly personal decision that depends on a variety of factors such as your personal preference, the number of teeth you’re replacing, your oral and general health, and your budget.

If you are missing one or more teeth, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Harding at Dentistry of West Bend. He can examine your teeth, evaluate your jawbone structure and talk with you about your overall smile restoration goals to help you determine which treatment choice is best for you. To learn more or schedule a smile makeover consultation, we welcome you to contact our dental office in West Bend, Wisconsin today.