How to Decide Between Implants and Dentures for Missing Teeth

Best solutions for missing teeth

Making an informed decision can transform your oral health and daily life.

There’s an old saying that knowledge is power. When Sir Francis Bacon originally said this, he certainly wasn’t talking about dentistry, but the concept still applies! When it comes to making decisions about your oral health, knowledge empowers you to make the best decision for your lifestyle and long-term oral health. Since your teeth play such a vital role in your daily life, from helping you eat and speak to impacting your appearance and self-expression, this is especially true when you’re looking into tooth loss remedies for missing teeth, like dental implants and dentures.

You want to choose a solution that you’ll love in the long term, but gathering the knowledge you need to make an informed decision isn’t always easy, especially when people have differing opinions. We understand this, and we want to make this process as easy and stress-free as possible for you, so we’ve gathered the information you need to know about implants and dentures to help you choose the best option for you!

What makes you a good candidate for each procedure?

It’s relatively easy to qualify for both implants and dentures when you’re missing teeth, so most people are good candidates for both treatments. Whether you get dentures or implants, your gums and any remaining teeth need to be healthy. If your oral health is a little worse for wear, don’t worry! Becoming a good candidate is as simple as regaining your oral health with the necessary dental treatments or changes to your oral hygiene routine.

Since dental implants are anchored directly into your jawbone like a tooth root, the biggest requirement to get them is healthy bone density in your jaw. You need enough bone for the implants to be embedded into. In some cases, your dental implant specialist can use a bone graft to improve your bone density. Dental implants require several surgical procedures, so you should also let Dr. Staley know if you have a medical condition that makes you heal more slowly or increases your risk of infection. You may still be a great fit for implants, but Dr. Staley may give you more time to heal between procedures or prescribe antibiotics to lower your chances of infection. This helps ease the healing process and gives you the best results possible!

What are the differences between the procedures?

The procedures for these tooth loss remedies for missing teeth look very different, but they both take multiple appointments over relatively long periods of time. Getting dentures often occurs over several weeks, while implants can take several months. Implants take more time because placing them involves several surgical procedures, between which you’ll need time to heal. Despite their differences, the first appointment to receive dentures or implants is very similar. You’ll spend time discussing your preferences for the size, shape, and shade of your new teeth with Dr. Staley, after which he’ll take impressions and measurements of your teeth and jaws to help create your restorations. When you get implants, you’ll also get X-rays to help Dr. Staley plan their placement in your jaw. After this first appointment, however, the process for each treatment begins to look much different.

If you choose dentures, you’ll spend the next few weeks visiting our office several times to try different versions of your dentures. These “try-in” appointments allow Dr. Staley to make adjustments to your dentures’ fit, ensuring they’ll fit perfectly. They also give you the chance to see your new smile in person so you can make adjustments to the appearance of your teeth before your final dentures arrive. This helps you be certain that you’ll love the natural fit and appearance of your new smile! Once your dentures have been finalized and milled in an outside lab, you’ll have a final appointment at our office to receive them, ensure they fit perfectly, and get final information about caring for them.

On the other hand, your second appointment to get dental implants will be the procedure to place the titanium metal rods that will act as your new tooth roots. Your jawbone will take up to six months to heal and grow around the rods, securing them in place just like a natural tooth root. Some people require a second surgery to place the “post” that will support your new teeth, after which you’ll need to heal for another month or two. After this, you’re in the home stretch! You’ll come to our office for a final appointment to place your tooth restoration, which can be a crown, bridge, partial denture, or full dentures. Dr. Staley will check your bite to ensure your restoration is fitting perfectly and feels natural before answering all of your final questions and sending you home with care instructions for your new smile.

What are the differences between the final results?

Whether you get dentures or implants, your final results will look and feel natural! No one will be able to tell you were ever missing teeth. Despite their reputation for slipping, dentures that fit well should feel natural and shouldn’t slip when you speak or eat. You won’t have to worry about them in public, though you should still avoid chewing gum and eating particularly chewy or tough foods. That said, dental implants mimic your natural teeth at a bone-deep level, so they’re the next best thing to getting your natural teeth back. Their deep-rooted stability means they feel and function just like natural teeth. Whether you have a single implant capped with a crown or a full set of implant-supported dentures, you don’t have to worry about what you eat! They’re strong and stable enough for you to eat all of your favorite foods, including corn on the cob and whole apples.

Perhaps the biggest difference regarding the final results of dentures and implants is the long-term health of your jawbone. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that protects against bone loss. Just like natural tooth roots, implants keep your jaw strong and healthy, protecting your face shape from the effects of bone loss. While dental implants do have a leg up on other tooth loss remedies, dentures are still an effective treatment! Both options feel natural and restore the function and appearance of your natural teeth, giving you a smile that’s uniquely yours.

How do the costs of implants and dentures compare?

There are two aspects of the cost differences between dentures and implants that you’ll want to consider: short-term costs and long-term costs. In the short term, dentures are less expensive than dental implants. At first glimpse, this seems to make dentures the clear winner if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option. Implants aren’t without their own merits when it comes to your budget, though; they’re just playing the long game! It’s not until you look at long-term costs that dental implants really shine from a budgeting perspective.

Dentures begin to fit more loosely as your jaw loses bone density, so they need to be examined and potentially adjusted yearly to ensure they continue to fit comfortably and function correctly. They’ll also likely need to be replaced every five to eight years due to wear and tear. In contrast, dental implants are designed to last a lifetime; you never have to replace them! Over time, you may have to replace the restoration on your implants due to wear and tear, but this is a low, infrequent cost. If you take great care of your restoration, they could last decades.

Given these differences, you might be wondering which treatment is the most budget-friendly option. The answer is simple: it depends on your budget and personal preferences! Would you prefer a smaller immediate cost with regular, relatively small expenses for maintenance and occasional replacements spread out over time, or would you prefer a larger immediate cost with little to no regular expenses? There’s no wrong answer! If you’re worried about affording either option, however, don’t be afraid to ask our staff about payment options. We want to ensure you can afford the best treatment for you!

So, which restorative option is right for you?

Reaching an important decision like this isn’t always simple. After all, dentures and implants are both effective tooth loss remedies for missing teeth, and everyone is different; the right option for someone else isn’t always the right option for you! This is why gathering the knowledge to understand your options is so empowering. It gives you the tools you need to choose the best option for restoring missing teeth that is right for you. If you’d like to learn more about your options and how each may help you, feel free to call our Boise, Idaho, office and schedule a consultation with Dr. Staley at any time.