Fixing a missing or damaged tooth requires dental attention—there’s no way around it. There are two main options for those who are missing a tooth or multiple teeth: dental implants or partial dentures. Both partial dentures and dental implants are used to replace missing teeth, but there are important differences to understand about these two options. The implant is a small titanium stud placed within the bone, acting as a replacement tooth. This creates a stable base that attaches to the tooth’s roots, causing the implant and the tooth root to fuse together. On the other hand, partial dentures do not replace teeth, but are rather anchored to existing teeth, and are removable. Figuring out which option is best for you can be difficult and confusing, but there are pros and cons to both options. Here are the top four things to think about when considering dental implants vs. partial dentures.
The average cost of dental implants may appear much higher than the cost of partial dentures, because the upfront costs are higher. However, it turns out that throughout a person’s lifetime, dental implants are actually cheaper. Dental implants are a better long term investment for many people, as they don’t need to be replaced as frequently, and have an ease and security that partial dentures do not provide. Implants will last 20-30 years with proper hygiene, whereas dentures are typically replaced every 3-8 years. If you are worried about the cost, speak with your dentist and your insurance company, as they may be able to set up payment plans that will assist you with cost.
Current Dental Health and Future Oral Health
The current condition of your teeth matters when selecting the implants or dentures. Partial dentures sit on top of teeth and put stress on the adjacent teeth over time. Dental implants do not affect surrounding teeth. That means that the bone under partial dentures may deteriorate over time, affecting your long term oral health and the appearance of your face and smile. However—somewhat ironically—partial dentures are the better option for patients who have already experienced gum or bone loss. The procedure for partial dentures is non-invasive, which may be more appealing to some, especially those whose current oral hygiene is lacking.
If aesthetics is what you’re most concerned about, dental implants look more natural and are less noticeable. With partial implants, there is some visibility because they sit on top of the teeth and are not drilled into the bone. Since partial dentures are not drilled into the bone, they tend to look and feel less real than implants. Dental implants are surgically implanted where your missing tooth used to be, so it looks and feels more realistic than partial dentures ever could.
Stability and Functionality
Partial dentures do not provide the same level of stability and security that dental implants offer a patient. Because they sit on top of your surrounding teeth as opposed to being drilled into the bone, dentures move a lot and can be uncomfortable for chewing and talking. In terms of functionality, dentures only restore about 25% of a person’s natural bite strength, whereas implants can restore 90%. Overall, implants are a better option for many people, because they do not affect the surrounding teeth and do not need to be removed or replaced as frequently as partial dentures. Although the cost of dental implants may seem high at first, the long-term benefits in terms of dental health, stability, comfort, and appearance make up for it.
Depending on your priorities your dentist can assist you in figuring out the best solution for your damaged or missing teeth. If you have missing or broken teeth and are looking for a replacement, contact Temple Family Dentistry today.