Replacing missing teeth can be one of the best decisions you can make. Not only will restoring dental functionality improve your daily life, but replacing missing teeth can also restore and even enhance your looks. However, choosing the right dental solution, perhaps dentures or maybe dental implants, can be difficult.

When it comes to full arch replacement, patients face two broad choices:

Dentures vs. Dental Implants

All On X Dental Implants - Willow Pass Dental Care, Concord, CA

Dentures or dental implants?

The answer to that question may be harder than you imagine. Sure, dentures over the years have been the traditional standard for replacing lost teeth. But while they’re affordable and require no surgical interventions to anchor in place, they also come with significant drawbacks when compared to more advanced and innovative solutions.

Traditional dentures

Dentures have historically been the low-tech teeth replacement system of choice. You’ve probably seen them before, at a dental clinic or floating in a cup of warm water at your grandparent’s home. The concept is quite simple. New teeth, typically fabricated from a monolithic block of acrylic, are placed on the gums to replace lost teeth.

Removable full dentures - Complete - Concord Dentures

While this old-school solution addresses the problem of functionality and aesthetics, the results are imperfect at best.

  • Dentures move around in the mouth.
  • They can fall out without warning
  • Dentures also may cause irritation to the gums resulting in sores.
  • Dentures must be routinely replaced.
  • Perhaps most importantly, dentures don’t particularly feel natural in the mouth.

More importantly, traditional dentures do nothing to address the problem of bone resorption.

Traditional dentures may contribute to bone resorption as they do not provide the same level of stimulation to the jawbone as natural teeth. Over time, the bone in the jaw may decrease in volume and density.

Dental implants, on the other hand, can help preserve jawbone density. The implant, typically made of titanium, is surgically placed in the jawbone, providing stimulation similar to natural teeth and preventing bone loss.

What is bone resorption?

Why replace missing teeth: prevent jawbone deterioration

Bone loss in the jaw and face, known as dental bone resorption, occurs when there is insufficient stimulation. The roots of natural human teeth transmit bite forces to the underlying facial and jaw bones, signaling the body to preserve their density and depth. However, when bite forces are absent due to tooth loss or edentulism, the body initiates the active reabsorption and reduction of bone, leading to diminished bone structure. This process results in visible signs of facial aging (see above image, weakened and fragile jaws, and poses challenges for future dental implant procedures (unless extensive bone grafting is performed).

Facts about dental bone resorption
  1. Natural process: Bone resorption is a natural process that occurs in the body. In the context of dentistry, it can occur when there is a lack of stimulation or pressure on the jawbone, such as when teeth are missing.
  2. Causes: Dental bone resorption can be caused by several factors, including tooth loss, periodontal (gum) disease, trauma to the jaw, and certain medical conditions.
  3. Effects of tooth loss: When a tooth is lost or extracted, the surrounding bone may no longer receive the same level of stimulation during chewing. This lack of stimulation can lead to bone resorption over time.
  4. Symptoms: In the early stages, dental bone resorption may not cause noticeable symptoms, However, as it progresses, individuals may experience changes in their bit, their facial appearance, and difficulty in chewing and speaking.
  5. Prevention: Preventing dental bone resorption involves maintaining good oral hygiene, treating gum disease promptly, and replacing missing teeth with options that provide proper jawbone stimulation, such as dental implants.
  6. Treatment: Treatment options for dental bone resorption may include bone grafting procedures to rebuild lost bone, as well as dental implants to replace missing teeth and provide necessary stimulation to the jaw.
  7. Individual variability: The rate and extent of dental bone resorption can vary among individuals. Factors such as genetics, overall health, and oral hygiene practices can influence the progression of bone loss.
  8. Professional dental consultation: If you suspect dental bone resorption or are experiencing changes in your oral health, it is essential to consult with a prosthodontist or dentist who can assess your specific situation, recommend appropriate treatments, and help you maintain optimal oral health.

Dental implants

Understanding All On 4 Dental Implants - Willow Pass Dental Care - Concord, CA

Dental implants, in comparison, come with significant advantages and comparably fewer drawbacks.

The primary disadvantages of dental implants lay in upfront investment costs, and in surgery and post-operative recovery time. Conventional individual dental implants can cost much more than dentures. However, implant-supported denture procedures, such as All On 4 dental implants or All On X dental implants, have brought the benefits of dental implants to many patients at much more affordable prices.

Why are dental implants preferred by doctors and patients alike over traditional dentures?

The advantages are many and not insignificant.

  1. Stability and functionality: Dental implants are anchored directly to the jawbone, providing stability similar to natural teeth. Also, implants allow for a more natural and secure bite, making it easier to chew and speak without the fear of dentures slipping.
  2. It is a long-term solution: Dental implants are designed to be a permanent and long-lasting solution. With proper care, they can last for many years and in some cases a lifetime.
  3. Implants help preserve the jawbone: Implants help preserve the jawbone density by providing the necessary stimulation during chewing, preventing bone resorption that can occur with tooth loss. Traditional dentures, especially when unsupported by implants, may contribute to bone loss over time.
  4. Natural appearance: Dental implants look and feel like natural teeth, contributing to a more natural appearance. Dental implants are customized to match the color, shape, and alignment of surrounding teeth, providing a seamless integration with the rest of the smile.
  5. Comfort and convenience: Dental implants eliminate the discomfort and inconvenience associated with removable dentures. There’s no need for adhesives, and the hassle of removing and cleaning dentures is eliminated. Implants become a permanent part of the mouth, allowing for a more comfortable and convenient experience.
  6. Improved speech: Because dental implants are stable and securely anchored, they do not affect speech in the way that some denture wearers may experience. Dentures, especially if not properly fitted, can sometimes lead to speech difficulties.
  7. Enhanced self-esteem: Dental implants can have a positive impact on an individual’s self-esteem and confidence by providing a natural-looking and functional solution to tooth loss. The permanence and stability of implants can contribute to a greater sense of security and well-being.
  8. Prevention of adjacent tooth damage: Unlike dental bridges, which may require the reduction of adjacent healthy teeth, implants do not compromise the integrity of neighboring teeth. They are self-supporting and do not rely on adjacent teeth for support

It’s important to note that the preference for dental implants can vary depending on individual cases and preferences. While dental implants offer numerous advantages, factors such as cost, overall health, and the patient’s specific needs should be considered when determining the most suitable treatment option.

Consulting with a dentist or prosthodontist can help individuals make informed decisions based on their unique circumstances.

When to choose dental implants

Dental implants may be a suitable option for various individuals depending on their oral health condition, preferences, and specific needs.

Here are some situations in which choosing dental implants may be recommended:

  1. Missing teeth: Dental implants are often recommended for individuals who are missing one or more teeth. They can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or even a full arch.
  2. Good oral health: Individuals considering dental implants should generally have good overall oral health. This includes healthy gums and sufficient bone density in the jaw to support the implant.
  3. Stability and security: People who value stability and security in their tooth replacement may prefer dental implants. Implants are anchored to the jawbone, providing a stable and secure foundation for artificial teeth.
  4. Prevention of bone loss: Dental implants help prevent bone loss in the jaw that can occur with tooth loss. The implant stimulates the jawbone during chewing, preserving bone density.
  5. A long-term solution: Those looking for a long-term solution to tooth loss may opt for dental implants. With proper care, implants can last for many years or even a lifetime.
  6. Improved chewing function: Dental implants restore chewing function to a level close to that of natural teeth. This can be particularly important for individuals who struggle with eating or discomfort caused by traditional dentures.
  7. Enhanced aesthetics: Implants are designed to look and feel like natural teeth, contributing to a more natural and aesthetically pleasing smile. They can be customized to match the color, shape, and alignment of surrounding teeth.
  8. Preservation of adjacent teeth: Unlike dental bridges, which may require the reduction of adjacent healthy teeth, implants do not compromise the integrity of neighboring teeth. They are self-supporting and do not rely on adjacent teeth for support.
  9. Comfort and convenience: Dental implants eliminate the inconvenience associated with removable dentures. There’s no need for adhesives, and the hassle of removing and cleaning dentures is eliminated.
  10. Enhanced self-esteem: Dental implants can have a positive impact on an individual’s self-esteem and confidence by providing a natural-looking and functional solution to tooth loss.
  11. Maintenance and cleaning: Dental implants are easier to maintain and clean compared to traditional dentures. With implants, regular oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing, are similar to caring for natural teeth. This can be more convenient for individuals who prefer a routine that closely resembles their natural oral care habits.

It’s important to note that dental implants may not be suitable for everyone, and individual factors such as overall health, bone density, and financial considerations should be taken into account. Consulting with a prosthodontist is crucial to determine whether dental implants are the right choice based on an individual’s specific circumstances.

I highly recommend viewing my All On 4 Dental Implant Masterclass.