Your teeth are important for a variety of reasons, including helping you chew and talk and supporting your facial structure; when they’re missing, you develop problems. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that by age 50, Americans lose an average of 12 teeth, including their wisdom teeth, and by the time they reach 65, 26% will have no teeth left. That’s a big problem that needs to be addressed.
Mark Kramer, DDS specializes in placing dental implants — artificial teeth that share the form and function of your natural teeth — for his patients in Tustin, California.
Many people, though, still think dentures are their only option, so the team’s put together this guide on how dental implants and dentures compare.
All about dentures
Dentures have been the go-to restoration option for centuries, moving through wood, ivory, ceramic, and porcelain/acrylic components. There are two subcategories:
1. Partial dentures
Sometimes just called a “partial,” this is a good restoration option if you’re missing just one or a few teeth. We use dental crowns attached to a metal framework that you can slip in and out of your mouth.
Partials cost less than dental implant-supported crowns, but they’re not nearly as stable or comfortable, and they can affect both the way you talk and the way you chew. In addition, they offer no jawbone stimulation, meaning the bone under the gap in your smile can atrophy.
2. Complete dentures
If you’re missing an entire arch of teeth, complete dentures can fill in all the gaps. They’re an option that uses a row of dental crowns fixed to an acrylic base that holds onto your gums with suction (or a lot of PoliGrip). Initially, they cost less than dental implants, but they do have a number of drawbacks:
- Last only 7-15 years, so costs add up long-term
- Slip and click when you eat or talk
- Must be removed regularly for cleaning
- Don’t stimulate underlying bone tissue
Complete dentures also take a while to get used to, from dealing with gum irritation to relearning where to place your tongue to speak clearly.
What makes dental implants the gold standard?
Dental implants are designed to be a “whole tooth” replacement, and they’re a permanent one. They look and function just like your natural teeth, up to and including stimulating the underlying jawbone.
The surgeon places a titanium screw into your jawbone where your tooth used to be. It takes about 6-8 months for it to completely fuse with the bone, a process known as ossification. Once healed, your dentist places an abutment (connector) on top of the screw, which is then attached to a dental crown on top.
Because dental implants replicate the “whole tooth,” they’re superior to other replacement options:
- Fuse with your jawbone, making them stable, strong, and permanent
- Replicate the natural bite force on your jaw, preventing bone atrophy
- Don’t slip or clack since anchored in jaw
- Don’t require extra care beyond brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings
- Won’t interfere with your speech
Implants can also be used to anchor complete dentures, preventing the characteristic slipping and sliding.
If you’re missing teeth and want to ensure you have the best possible restoration for your oral health, it’s time to visit Mark Kramer and his team to see if you’re a good candidate for dental implants. Call us to schedule your appointment or book online today.