Dental Implants vs. Dentures: Understanding Your Options
April 25, 2023 Around 17% of adults over the age of 64 have lost all of their teeth. A quarter of that same age group no longer has between one and eight teeth left. Tooth loss as you age is more common than you might realize. Poor oral care habits are just a small part of the problem. Older adults are more likely to take medications for conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, and some of those medications can lead to dry mouth, which increases the risk of gum disease. Gum disease and tooth infections are reasons dental implants and dentures become necessary. Older adults are not alone in the risk of losing one or more teeth. Younger adults may need dental implants or dentures after an accident that damages the jaw, poor oral care habits, smoking, or diseases like diabetes. When you have teeth that cannot be saved with a root canal, do dental implants make more sense, or do dentures seem best for your needs? What are the pros and cons of each?
Dental Implants: What They Are and Their Pros and Cons Dental implants are a permanent solution to missing teeth. One or more titanium posts are surgically placed in the jawbone and given a little time to set. Once the post is secure, a crown or bridge that looks like real teeth is placed on the post to create a natural, strong tooth that will feel and function like your natural teeth. What are the pros and cons? These are the things to consider.
If your dental insurance covers any of the cost, it will help lower the cost. However, dental implants tend to cost an average of $3,000 to $4,500 per tooth. If insurance covers half of that, you’re looking at $1,500 to $2,250 per tooth, but you have to consider any limits and deductibles, too.
- Dental implants are more expensive than dentures.
If the crown placed on your titanium post ever breaks for whatever reason, it’s very unlikely that insurance will cover a replacement. You’ll be paying out of pocket for it.
- It’s unlikely that dental insurance will ever cover another implant.
A dental implant is affixed to the jawbone and is built to last a lifetime. As long as you listen to your dentist’s guidance about avoiding crunching on hard foods like hard candies and ice cubes, you shouldn’t find your dental implants crack or break.
- Dental implants are built to last.
You care for dental implants the same way you care for teeth. You brush and floss them twice a day. It’s very important to keep up with dental exams and cleanings to ensure gum disease isn’t going to cause problems.
- Dental implants are brushed and cared for like natural teeth.
A dental implant is not a one-and-done procedure. First, any damaged tooth has to be removed. If the jawbone needs grafts, those are completed first. Second, the titanium post has to be surgically inserted, and that post needs time to bond with the teeth. Until that happens, the top of the tooth abutment isn’t going to be placed. A slower healing process may stretch the process for months. Some dental implants take upwards of nine months from start to finish Once the abutment is in place, the artificial tooth is created and placed on the abutment. This process can take weeks or even months.
- Dental implants require multiple appointments.
Dentures: What They Are and Their Pros and Cons Dentures are oral prosthetics that fit onto the gums to replace some or all of your teeth. You can have full dentures, which replace all of the teeth on your upper or lower jaw, or partial dentures which replace some of your teeth. Most people know of dentures as the false teeth you can take in and out during the night while you sleep. What are the pros and cons? These are the things to consider.
Dentures are much cheaper than implants. It can be as cheap as $300 to $500 per plate, but the average is around $1,800 for a full set of dentures. It depends on the type of dentures you choose. Premium dentures can cost between $4,000 to $8,000 for a full set, and they’re often preferred due to the natural look and improved durability. In addition to the cost of the dentures, you may have other expenses. You have to pay for the extractions of any remaining teeth or decayed teeth. There is also the cost of the temporary dentures that are put in place until the permanent set of dentures is ready.
- Dentures are cheaper.
When it comes to dentures, they’re a cheaper option than dental implants, but dental insurance may limit what coverage is offered on repairs of a broken bridge or denture. If you are allowed one set of dentures or a bridge every seven years, you’d have to pay out of pocket if something happened before the seven years are up.
- There’s a limit on repairs or replacements.
Dentures require some special care. Usually, you remove them and soak them in a special cleaner. Those cleaners cost money, but it does make it easier to fully clean them because they’re removed from the mouth for cleaning.
- Dentures require special care.
Dentures may need to have an adhesive applied between the gums and dentures to hold them in place. If they slip, it can cause sores that make it difficult to chew food. This can lead to malnutrition, especially if you start avoiding some of the healthier food options like fruits and vegetables that aren’t cooked to a mush. The other issue with dentures that slip is that it can impact speech. If speech is impacted, it can lead to withdrawal from social activities, and that’s not beneficial to your mental, emotional, or even physical health.
- Dentures may slip and cause discomfort.
Which Is Best for Your Needs? Both dental implants and dentures are viable replacements for missing teeth, so how do you determine which option is best? It’s ultimately your decision on which is best for your specific situation. If you have a limited income and your dental insurance will not cover any of the cost of dental implants, you may find your options are limited. Don’t make a rash decision without talking to your dentist. Your dentist can go over the pros and cons of dental implants vs. dentures based on your specific situation, discuss the cost of both, and help you determine which is best for your needs when it comes to your budget, insurance coverage, and lifestyle. Jody Jones DDS is Nashville’s specialist in both dental implants and dentures. If dental anxiety keeps you from getting routine exams and cleanings, you’re not alone and Dr. Jones has a solution that helps with dental anxiety. Call and ask his team about sedation dentistry. Nashville’s Dr. Jones and his team specialize in providing quality dental care to anxious patients. Not only is the office designed to help you feel at ease, but you can receive oral conscious sedation where you’re fully awake while your anxiety decreases thanks to a light sedative. If sedation dentistry would help you through a dental exam, let us know.