Dentures vs. Dental Implants

Dentures are not the only option for multiple tooth replacement!

  • Dentures often do not fit well and must constantly be redone.
  • Dentures feel unnatural, and chewing or speaking clearly can be difficult.
  • Dental implants can replace some or all of your teeth and restore natural function and appearance to your bite and smile.
  • Dental implants give you freedom from dentures and the ongoing costs and discomfort!

Many people who have had a lifetime of troubles with their teeth think that getting dentures will solve their problems. This is not true. What dentures do is trade one set of problems for a different set of problems. A person's ability to tolerate a denture has little to do with a dentist's ability to make a good set of dentures. It's like shoes—you can try on the finest pair, and they may not be comfortable on your feet. Many people are just never comfortable with dentures.

Problems with Chewing

Dentures do not have the chewing efficiency of natural teeth or implants. With dentures, a patient can expect to have approximately 10 percent of the chewing force he or she had with real teeth in place. In contrast, dental implants provide up to 95 percent of the chewing force of real teeth.

Many people turn to adhesives to keep dentures in place. These gooey adhesives change how food tastes and are a burden to keep up with. Patients often struggle with alignment and comfort issues. Implants allow teeth to be replaced with exact replicas that are firmly mounted in place and look just like the original teeth. It is estimated that 22 percent of Americans will have lost all their teeth by the age of 65. In past years, dentures were the only viable option for those who had lost teeth to gum disease, decay, or an accident. Times have changed, however, and there is now a convenient, comfortable, and attractive alternative to dentures that you should consider—dental implants.

Why should you consider implants over the customary mouth full of dentures?

Unlike dentures, dental implants are a near-permanent solution. They:

  • Look and feel like your natural teeth.
  • Don't slip and slide out of place.
  • Don't have to be removed for cleaning (You care for implants in the same manner you would care for your natural teeth.)
  • Cause no discomfort—you don't have to worry about getting something lodged beneath a denture plate. You'll also never develop painful mouth sores where the dentures rub or experience soreness from the muscles of your cheeks and tongue working to keep your dentures in place.
  • Won't change your speech patterns since they don't move in your mouth as you speak.
  • Allow you to smile with confidence, knowing your teeth look real and natural.

What type of specialist do I see for implants?

Several types of dentists place dental implants. Of these, periodontists are often the best choice for dental implant placement. They have a wide range of training in the areas of surgery and prosthetics, and their ability to manage the gum tissue is superior to most other dental specialists. You should carefully consider your options before selecting a practitioner to place your implants, as many general dentists have signed up for weekend courses on implantation and begin offering dental implants to their patients without adequate experience. A person should be extremely careful when selecting a general dentist to place dental implants. A general dentist may have very limited surgical training and minimal experience with implants. It is true that anyone—even a non-dentist—can learn to place dental implants in a weekend course. However, it takes many years of study to learn what to do if something goes wrong and, more importantly, to know enough to have a highly successful outcome without complications on a routine, recurring basis.

Is the procedure more involved for implants than for dentures?

The process of getting implants is only slightly more involved for implants than for dentures. Implantation, for example, does involve minor surgery, which for most patients is performed under local anesthetic right in Dr. Scharf's office, with sedation available for patients who want it. However, many denture wearers also find themselves having to undergo surgery prior to being able to wear dentures, and tooth extractions and bone grafting might be necessary in either case (depending on the current state of your oral health).

Dr. Scharf has the skill and technology to place implants using "flapless surgery." This method uses three-dimensional dentascans and computer-generated templates to allow for precise implant placement without the need for cutting and stitching. This method is very popular but may not be right for everyone. Dr. Scharf can explain to you the pros and cons of flapless surgery and why this approach may or may not be the best choice for your situation.

What is the number one reason I should get implants instead of dentures?

The number one reason to get dental implants instead of dentures is that dental implants give you your freedom.

  • Freedom to eat whatever you want.
  • Freedom to feel confident in social situations, knowing that your teeth won't slip, move, or fall out.
  • Freedom to smile with confidence and look as youthful as possible.
  • Freedom from having to put your teeth on the nightstand or, worse yet, remove them in the hospital.
  • Freedom from the discomfort of loose, rubbing dentures that don't stay in or that cause mouth sores.
  • Implants are a near-permanent solution to tooth loss. Most older patients can expect their implants to last for life. In contrast, continued gum and bone deterioration often make it necessary to replace dentures over and over as the underlying bone structure degenerates and the fit becomes poor.

Implants allow you to leave healthy teeth intact and only replace missing or damaged ones. The comfort level with implants is consistently better than with dentures; in fact, many patients comment that it's "just like having teeth again." They can eat, smile, socialize, and enjoy life, and the implants will prevent sagging of the facial muscles and wrinkles, taking years off the patient's appearance!

Are implants really affordable?

The initial cost for implants is slightly higher than the cost for dentures; however, most patients agree that the extra cost is worth it. Benefits include comfort and confidence achieved by having teeth that look and feel naturally yours. Greater initial costs are offset by the fact that the ongoing expense of messy adhesives and denture cleaning products will be eliminated, as well as the need to have new dentures fitted throughout the years due to changes in gums and bone density.

There's also a practical side: Implants will never be inadvertently misplaced, lost, or thrown away. You don't have to remove them for cleaning or other reasons and will never have to worry about being seen by friends or loved ones without your teeth. We find that this is one of the greatest fears among denture wearers—being caught "without their teeth." Dental implants eliminate that anxiety and ensure that your smile is always at its best!

The bottom line is that dentures will incur ongoing costs over the years, while implants can last a lifetime. To make the larger up-front cost affordable, we offer our patients interest-free financing as well as long-term extended payment plans. Many patients are surprised to learn that they can have dental implants for less than they spend every month on cable television and their cell phone bill! In short, while dentures may be cheaper than dental implants, dental implants are a much better value!