There are several tooth replacement options with the most common being dentures and bridges. We compare these alternatives with dental implants to help you decide what’s best for your situation.
Around 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and approximately 40 million Americans have no teeth at all, so if you’re weighing up your tooth replacement options, you’re certainly not alone.
When it comes to tooth replacement, there are several options to consider. Two of the most common alternatives to dental implants are dentures and bridges. Each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we'll compare dental implants to these alternatives, helping you make an informed decision about the best solution for your unique needs. So, let’s get started.
Dental Implants: A Permanent Solution
According to recent statistics, the number of people getting dental implants has increased by 500,000 annually, making it one of the most popular tooth replacement options out there. These small titanium posts are surgically placed in the jawbone, where they fuse with the bone over time. This process, called osseointegration, provides a sturdy and permanent foundation for a lifelike replacement tooth (crown). Here's why dental implants are favored by many:
- Durability – With proper care dental implants can last a patient’s lifetime, making them a great long-term investment in their oral health.
- Just like natural teeth – Since dental implants are embedded into the jawbone, they look and function just like real teeth enabling patients to eat, speak and smile with confidence.
- Jaw preservation – Implants act as artificial tooth roots stimulating the jawbone and preventing the bone loss that occurs when teeth are missing. As a result, the facial structures are maintained, helping patients retain their youthful looks.
- Stand-alone treatment – Unlike dental bridges, implants do not rely on surrounding teeth for support and consequently there is no need to modify otherwise healthy teeth.
- Easy maintenance – Implants are cared for with brushing, flossing and regular dental checks, just like natural teeth, so they fit seamlessly into your daily oral hygiene routine.
As you can see, there are many benefits associated with dental implants but since we are comparing the pros and cons of each of the alternative tooth replacement options, it’s only fair we look at the disadvantages.
- Certain criteria have to be met – Since implant posts are surgically placed into the jawbone, there has to be sufficient bone to support them. People who have suffered significant bone loss may require bone grafting before getting dental implants and this adds to the overall cost and length of treatment. You also need to be in good physical health to undergo surgery and enable your jaw to fully recover. Finally, smokers will need to quit their habit before surgery and during the recovery period as smoking is known to affect healing.
- Dental implant treatment can take several months – Dental implants typically involve multiple treatments with time for healing in between and can take up to six months to complete. If you’re looking for a ‘quick fix’ solution to tooth replacement, dental implants may not be for you.
- Cost – Implants aren’t cheap and you can expect to pay between $3,000 to $4,000 per tooth. If you need a full mouth of implants the final price is likely to range between, $60,000 and $90,000.
- Dental implants can fail – While it’s stated that implants have a 95% success rate, you could be one of the 5% of patients whose implants fail. Reasons for implant failure include gum disease, insufficient bone density and certain medical conditions but it can also be due to poor oral hygiene or smoking,
Now let’s look at the two alternative tooth replacement options to dental implants.
Dentures: A Removable Option
Dentures are removable, acrylic or metal framework replacements for missing teeth. They come in two primary types: complete dentures (for those missing all teeth) and partial dentures (for those with some natural teeth remaining). Here are some pros and cons of dentures:
- Affordability: Dentures are often a more cost-effective option compared to dental implants.
- Non-Invasive: The process of getting dentures does not require surgery or any invasive procedures.
- Versatility: Dentures are a suitable option for people with extensive tooth loss.
- Stability: Dentures may slip or move during eating or speaking, leading to discomfort and embarrassment.
- Maintenance: Dentures require regular cleaning and may need relining or replacement as your jawbone changes shape over time.
- Limited Functionality: Chewing certain foods and enunciating words can be more challenging with dentures.
Bridges: A Fixed but Tooth-Altering Solution
Dental bridges involve attaching an artificial tooth (pontic) to two crowns, which are then cemented onto the adjacent natural teeth. While bridges offer some advantages, they also come with significant drawbacks:
- Fixed Solution: Bridges are permanently attached, eliminating the need for removal for cleaning.
- Quick Procedure: Getting a bridge typically requires fewer dental visits than dental implants.
- Adjacent Tooth Alteration: The healthy teeth on either side of the gap must be shaved down to accommodate the crowns, potentially weakening them.
- Limited Lifespan: Bridges last for 5-15 years on average although with proper care and maintenance, they can last longer before needing replacement.
- Jawbone Health: Like dentures, bridges do not stimulate the jawbone, potentially leading to bone loss over time.
Choosing the right tooth replacement option is a crucial decision for your oral health and overall quality of life. Dental implants are often the preferred choice due to their durability, natural look and feel, and long-term benefits. However, your decision should be based on your individual circumstances, budget, and personal preferences.
Want to know if dental bridges are right for you?
Why not schedule a free implant consultation with the experienced team here at Chesterfield Dentistry? We can assess your dental health and recommend the best solution for your needs.