Implants or Dentures: Which Are Best?

The American College of Prosthodontists estimates that 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. Even one tooth can make a difference when it comes to quality of life. For the 40 million Americans missing all of their teeth, chewing and even speaking can be painful and a challenge, according to Dr. Kevin Pollock, DDS, oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Pinnacle Oral Surgery Specialists in Rockwall, Texas.

“Most tooth loss occurs because of dental decay, usually due to lack of oral hygiene,” he said. “While prevention should be our focus, it is possible to restore a smile, even for a patient with no remaining teeth, so that they can have a better quality of life and a greater sense of confidence.”

Preventing Tooth Loss

The American Dental Association asserts that prevention is key and that it begins with a consistent and efficient oral hygiene routine. The ADA recommends brushing teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once a day. Visiting your dentist regularly is also an integral part of preventing the decay that leads to tooth loss.

“A less common tip that can really help you keep teeth clean between brushing is to simply rinse your mouth with water after each meal, snack or sugary drink,” said Pollock. “While eating a balanced diet is an important part of oral and whole-body health, even healthy foods can leave residue on teeth that can turn into plaque.”

Pollock said tooth loss doesn’t have to mean a poor quality of life. There are many options available to those who find themselves missing a tooth or multiple teeth. Two of the most popular are dentures and dental implants.

The Benefits of Dentures

One of the biggest differences between dentures and implants is that dentures are removable, while implants are permanent. Partial dentures can be used to fill in the gaps where single teeth are missing, and full sets of dentures can replace the entire top or bottom row of teeth if needed.

Dentures are also more affordable than implants, sometimes making them the only option for those on a budget. They are also less invasive, as dentures do not require a surgical procedure like implants.

The Benefits of Implants

“Implants are the best solution for anyone who is a candidate for them because they replace more than just the visible tooth,” said Pollock. “By replacing the whole tooth down to the root, implants help prevent jaw bone loss and keep the entire face supported as it naturally would be with teeth.”

Unlike dentures, which only replace the visible portion of the tooth, dental implants are anchored into the root of the tooth with a titanium rod. Without replacing the root, the jawbone can begin to deteriorate over time from lack of stimulation that occurs when a tooth chews food or is otherwise used. When this occurs, it can actually affect the entire look of the patient’s face, causing them to begin outwardly aging prematurely.