Dental implants or dentures?
Dentures and dental implants are some of the most common treatments available to replace missing teeth. Conventional dentures are removable appliances made from metal and/or acrylic plastic. A dental implant is inserted into the jawbone to replace a missing tooth root and supports a cosmetic crown that looks and feels like a real tooth. What are the advantages of dental implants, compared to dentures?
Dentures can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. Plastic dentures rest on the gum, while those with a metal framework are supported by some or all remaining teeth. Suction, adhesive and the muscles in your tongue and cheeks help to hold them in place. This means that the mouth and gums can become tired, and the dentures may rock and move. Some poor fitting dentures slip within the mouth, which can make the gum line sore and cause you to mumble or slur your words. Dentures can feel invasive and alien, which may lead to difficulty eating or pronouncing certain words.
Dental implants feel and function like real teeth, and are fixed securely and discreetly in the mouth with no risk of movement. Titanium supports replace the root of the tooth and hold replacement teeth such as single crowns, fixed bridges or even full dentures. Dentures can be retained or supported by tooth implants to make them stable and secure. Implants can fill the gaps in your mouth, providing a solid structure and reducing the load on remaining teeth. Replacing lost natural teeth with dental implants can help you to eat and speak normally.
Natural teeth are embedded in the jawbone. When you lose them, the jaw no longer receives the necessary stimulation from biting and chewing, which can cause it to shrink (resorb). This can eventually result in wrinkled lips and a sunken mouth and cheeks, which can make you look older. Dentures do not prevent this process; bone beneath a denture plate can shrink because it is not being stimulated, and the pressure on the gums from the dentures can actually increase the rate of deterioration.
Dental implants prevent resorption as they are placed directly into the jawbone. The new teeth are connected to tiny titanium posts, which act like the root of the tooth by fusing with the jaw. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that preserves and stimulates bone growth. This can help your facial profile retain its original shape.
Teeth are used to tear, shred and grind up food. If you wear a removable denture, you probably have to choose what you eat with care. Foods such as nuts, berries and seeds are best avoided. Small bits can get under the denture plate, making it painful and unstable. Sticky foods, chewy meat, hard fruit and vegetables such as apples and raw carrots can also be a problem. Denture wearers may have to avoid biting at the front of their mouth, as this can cause the dentures to become unstable. There is also the risk of the appliance becoming loose or breaking.
Dental implants can help you to regain the ability to eat your favourite foods with comfort and without a second thought. Implants are fixed in place and fuse naturally with your jaw. They help to restore full chewing power, so you can eat with as much confidence as you would with natural teeth.
Full upper dentures cover the roof of the mouth, blocking thousands of taste buds which can reduce the sense of taste and the enjoyment of food. Failure to clean dentures properly, and the use of adhesives or fixatives, can also have an impact on your ability to taste. This can lead to diminished interest in eating well, with healthier diets often replaced by sweet, salty and fatty foods. These dietary changes may result in an increased risk of chronic diseases. The acrylic denture plate that covers the roof of the mouth can also cause some people to gag, the body’s natural response to prevent choking in the throat.
Implants help to retain your sense of taste, as they do not block any taste buds and allow you to feel the texture and temperature of food. A grateful dental implant patient of Dr Duncan Ralston, The Dental and Cosmetic Clinic, Leicester commented, “I write this letter to express my thanks and appreciation to you for giving me my speech, taste and confidence to smile, back again. For the first time in 30 years I can now bite into an apple and taste the food I’m eating.”
Dentures need a greater level of care to clean and maintain compared to natural teeth, often requiring a special fizzy denture cleaner to remove stains. You also need to clean the underside surface of the denture that fits against your gums. The Oral Health Foundation advises that you check any cleaning products with your dental team if you have either a special, soft lining for sensitive gums, or a denture with a metal frame, as some products may damage these types of denture. When you remove your dentures at night to rest your mouth, you must leave them in water to prevent warping or cracking.
Dental implants need the same amount of care as normal teeth, requiring regular dentist and hygienist check-ups and satisfactory care routines such as twice daily brushing and flossing. If you don’t look after your teeth implants, bacteria can build up and you may develop gum infections, soreness and general discomfort, just as you would with your natural teeth. If left untreated, the inflammation can cause bone loss around the implant.
The Association of Dental Implantology states, “It is the quality of your personal attention to oral hygiene and willingness to attend regular maintenance reviews that will have most influence on how long they [dental implants] will last.”
Dentures might seem like an enticing option, as they have a lower initial cost than dental implants. However, they may need to be regularly relined, and if the jawbone shrinks due to lack of use, the denture may need adjusting or replacing to maintain the fit.
Dental implants require a greater initial outlay than dentures. They are a permanent replacement for missing teeth; therefore the treatment should be considered an investment in your oral health. Dental implant treatment can be invaluable in improving function, your overall appearance and self-esteem. They can last as long as natural teeth without needing replacement or adjustment, given proper oral care routines and regular check-ups.
According to The Oral Health Foundation: “If your implants are well looked after, and if the bone they are fitted to is strong and healthy, you can expect them to last for many years.”
Dental implants also have a very good success rate. According to the Association of Dental Implantology (UK), dental implants are successful in ninety-five percent of all treatment cases. Implants are a reliable, predictable way to replace missing teeth.
Dr Colin Neil of Confident Dental Implants, Stroud believes that dental implants are, “the gold standard method for replacing missing teeth, problematic bridges or dentures.”
If you think dental implants are right for you, contact a local implant dentist.