Dental Implants or Dentures?
Most people end up needing dental restorations when one or more of their teeth are damaged or develop cavities due to decay. Most of the time the problem can be fixed with a filling, but more extensive damage may require a cap or bridgework. Neglecting proper dental hygiene is not always the cause of tooth damage, but many people put off seeing a dentist until their teeth are in very bad condition. When a dentist finally sees this patient, they may advise that dentures will be their best option. The patient will surely be very disappointed to hear this recommendation, but relieved to hear that other choices are now available. Many dentists, like Precious Smiles, offer various photos of what these options might look like on their website. They will also typically offer more in-depth descriptions of the processes so you can refer back as you are making your decision on which you would prefer.
Denture wearers are often plagued with mouth sores from dentures that do not fit, and they also have difficulty eating and speaking. Dentures that slip cause embarrassment, so the wearer may become less socially active. Eating foods that are hard to chew such as nuts and raw fruit and vegetables is difficult, so these healthy foods may be eliminated from the diet. These issues may lead a patient to consider whether they should choose dental implants or dentures.
Dental implants were developed as a tooth restoration option several decades ago, but the treatment was more expensive than most people could afford. The innovative dental restoration was not covered by insurance, so only a few people could get implants. In addition to the financial obstacle, not everyone was qualified as a candidate for the procedure. Patients needed to be in good health with solid jawbone structure, and smokers were not approved for an implant procedure. These guidelines have not changed significantly with the exception that mini-implants now make the procedure faster and less expensive. Implants are still not covered by insurance, but that may change in the future.
Mini-implants use the same concept as the original technology, but the titanium screws placed in the jawbone to secure the replacement tooth are much smaller. This means less time is required for ossification to take place and fewer appointments are required to complete the restoration. Some dentists advertise that an implant can be completed in just one day. Of course, pre-placement appointments will be necessary to make take measurements so the correct placement of the implant can be determined, and follow-up appointments are also required.
Modern dentistry is now able to offer dentures that are anchored by implants, so patients no longer need to decide between dental implants or dentures. The procedure known as “all on 4” refers to a denture plate that is anchored to the jawbone with four titanium screws. This kind of restoration eliminates the typical problems denture wearers complain of. The patient is able to eat and talk as naturally as if they still had their original teeth. The denture can easily be removed for cleaning and will snap securely to the abutment anchor with gentle pressure.
The process of getting dentures is not pleasant, and the procedure can take a few months from beginning to end. The first step involves the dentist taking measurements and impressions of the existing teeth so a temporary denture can be made before pulling the teeth. Two or three appointments will be necessary before all the teeth are pulled. The gums will be sore after the teeth are pulled, and the temporary denture is necessary so the patient will be able to eat while the gums heal. The gums will shrink during the healing process, so more measurements will be taken before the permanent denture can be made. Even though every effort is made to ensure the final denture is a good fit, the patient may never feel comfortable wearing it.
The cost of dentures is mostly covered by insurance, so many people will decide on dentures rather than implants due to the difference in cost. Implant anchored dentures do cost more than traditional dentures, but the cost is considerably less than implants alone. Dentists hope that health insurance companies will change their policies to cover some of the cost of implants in the future. Since an implant can last 20 years or more with proper care, the long term cost of care could actually be lower than repeated restorations over the same time period. The unfortunate fact is that this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.