Did you know, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, there are over 30 million people in the US who are missing all their teeth in one or both jaws? That’s a lot of folks who are looking for the right tooth replacement option to ensure they keep on smiling!
Choosing the right tooth replacement treatment is a big decision and will affect not only your time and budget now, but your smile (and dental and oral health) for many years to come. Most people will consider traditional dentures, dental implants, or a combination approach of an implant supported denture. So, what’s the difference?
Dentures are the least expensive option (at least initially.) Most people have a pretty good idea what dentures look like out of the mouth, but you might be surprised how many people you see have dentures that look very natural. Upper dentures typically are better fitting and more comfortable than lower dentures. In some cases, patients are able to retain their lower teeth and only wear an upper denture. If the dentures are fitted well and the color selection is natural looking, they can be a good solution for patients on a budget.
There are some negatives for any tooth replacement treatment and with traditional dentures the downsides include fit problems (especially on the lower jaw), they can be less natural looking than dental implants, and there is greater risk for the development of gum disease and/or bone deterioration. In some cases, oral surgery must be performed to sculpt the bone structure to improve the fit of the denture. In these cases, the healing process is prolonged to allow for the bone and surgical site to heal. Dentures can also make some favorite foods difficult to eat. Dentures also require removal at night with a nightly maintenance routine. Not to mention the need for adhesives.
If you are considering dentures you should also consider they generally need to be replaced every 3-6 years. Depending on your age, the expense of replacement can add up.
Dental Implants are the most natural tooth replacement available because the teeth are replaced with individual prosthetic teeth that are anchored to the jaw with a medical screw (normally titanium). Dental implants not only look like your natural teeth, they feel like your natural teeth. Most foods can be eaten normally and the health of your gums and bone structure is preserved. Care of dental implants is just like normal teeth too – brush, floss, and visit your hygienist as recommended. One big benefit of dental implants is they can last for 20 years or longer!
Obviously, dental implants are more expensive than traditional dentures and for some people perhaps not an option due to budget constraints. The implants are surgically installed by an oral surgeon and require a lengthy healing process. The screw that holds the new teeth must heal completely and become part of the bone, a process called osseointegration. This healing is necessary and the final teeth can’t be placed until the process is complete. If you can afford them and have the patience for the treatment, dental implants are a superior option for replacement teeth.
Implant Supported Dentures provide a hybrid option that can save money initially. With this treatment, the dentist will implant 4-6 screws (depending on the individual case) and once they are healed, a special denture can be secured to the screws. Implant supported dentures provide many of the same benefits of the full implants while being less expensive. The screws will last many years, but the denture part of this treatment will likely need to be replaced more frequently than the normal dental implants. Unfortunately, this option also requires a longer healing process to allow the screw to be integrated into the surrounding bone.
A note about the healing process: Don’t be fooled by advertisements promising “teeth in a day.” Whether you are having teeth extracted and planning to replace with a traditional denture, or you are planning to replace with dental implants, there is going to be a healing process. At each stage of the healing process the tissue and bone structure changes. Those changes affect the fit of the new teeth. There are temporary fixes we can use along the way to help patients maintain normal life during the process, but the healing of the gums, bones and surrounding tissue must happen before a permanent tooth replacement will be complete.
Wondering what option is right for you? A consultation with the right dental professional is the best place to start. Your Dental Specialist can help you decide the right solution for your budget and your lifestyle. Great planning can help to minimize the negative effects of the healing process and give you back a beautiful smile. As our Dr Hameroff says, “My patients don’t come to me for new teeth, they are buying a great smile!” And after over 30 years helping patients here in Hernando County, he should know. (Check his Credentials here. )
Articles provided by Dr. Hameroff, staff, and marketing team members. Articles are intended to bring our patients and friends relevant information regarding dental health.
Periodontal Therapy Center
Dr Jeffrey Hameroff, DDS
7320 Forest Oaks Blvd.
Spring Hill, FL 34606