Losing any of your teeth can be embarrassing, painful, and frustrating. However, there are options, such as dentures or dental implants, that can restore your smile and keep it healthy. These are artificial teeth that replace your missing teeth, either by adding a frame that sits where your teeth were or by inserting metal roots into the bone to fill the gap. But what’s the difference between dentures and implants? Which one is right for you?
A denture is a plate or frame that sits in place of your teeth. They are removable, and can aesthetically replace your teeth and the surrounding gum tissue. They are easy to insert and remove and don’t require surgery since they only need to be fitted to your mouth. There are two types of dentures, complete, which replace an entire row of teeth, and partial, which only replace an area of your teeth, like a particular set of teeth.
With complete dentures, there are conventional and immediate dentures. Once the teeth are removed, whether surgically or incidentally, it can take up to 8 to 12 weeks for a pair of conventional dentures to be created and fitted. During that time, you are left completely without teeth. Immediate dentures can be made ahead of time to cover this gap temporarily. However, since the gums and bone have to adjust and move during the healing period and beyond, immediate dentures are often in need of adjustment.
Partial dentures fill in gaps between the teeth, in cases where one or more teeth are salvageable in the row. Not only will it fill in gaps, but it will prevent other teeth from moving. Partial dentures usually consist of metal clasps that attach to your real teeth, but precision dentures can be made which use internal attachments.
Dental implants, as the name suggests, use implants to anchor artificial teeth into place. Dental implants attempt to mimic actual teeth, by anchoring into the bone and fusing with it. Not only does this help to create a more permanent tooth, but it also prevents bone deterioration in the absence of teeth. Bone grafts are used if the bone has already deteriorated. The implants will stick out of the bone, allowing your gums to form around it, creating a more natural looking tooth formation.
Dental implants are installed first by removing any teeth that may need to be removed. This could be because of infection, injury, or in cases where there is no permanent tooth to replace a baby tooth that is lost. Once that is done, the body is given time to heal before a bone graft is made, to fill in any lost bone matter. After the graft is allowed to heal, the main part of the implant is installed. This acts as a root, and will fuse with the bone over time, creating an anchor for the artificial tooth, and preventing further bone decay. The implant is then installed, and allowed to heal. Next, the abutment is installed, allowing your gums to be shaped around the implants. Finally, the prosthetic crown is then placed over the abutment.
Naturally, dental implants can be costly and require a lot of time and money. However, they are the best options for creating, permanent, life-like teeth. They don’t require adjustment or further maintenance after installation, and proper implantation can allow for better overall dental health for the remaining teeth. Dental Implants can even supplement dentures, by acting as anchors.
Dentures, on the other hand, are cheaper and require little to no surgery. However, they do not prevent bone decay and require adjustments due to this. Additionally, they need to be removed for certain activities, and require additional maintenance.
These are the basics of the two main options available to people suffering from missing teeth. As with any other medical conditions, you’ll want to have your dentist or a specialist like Dr. Trevisani advise you on the best possible course of treatment for your specific situation, and explain how the differences between these methods can benefit you.