Millions of Americans are missing at least one tooth, putting them at risk of complications like bite problems, jaw pain, chronic headaches, and more tooth loss in the future. In fact, one recent study found that tooth loss appears to be linked with dementia and that replacing missing teeth seems to reverse that trend.
In addition to physical problems, tooth loss has an emotional impact, taking a big toll on your confidence and self-esteem. And of course, having one or more missing teeth can affect the impression you make on others, especially if it’s obvious when you speak or laugh.
While dentures are certainly one way to replace missing teeth, in recent years dental implants have become a popular alternative for plenty of people. As a leading provider of state-of-the-art dental implants in Oakland, California, Brandon Kang, DDS, helps his patients at Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center restore their missing teeth and avoid complications. In this post, learn how dentures and implants compare.
Quick facts about dentures
Dentures are composed of a gum-colored base that supports one or more artificial teeth. The base is curved to hug the contours of your gums, allowing the denture to rest on top of your gum. Depending on the number of teeth you’re missing, a denture may replace one or several teeth.
Dentures require frequent adjustments to help them fit securely. Slippage is a real concern for people who wear dentures, especially slippage that occurs during social events. In addition to embarrassment, slippage can cause sores on your gums, along with fungal infections called denture stomatitis.
Today’s dentures are a lot different from the dentures your grandparents wore. Made of lighter materials, today’s dentures are more comfortable and feel less intrusive, although they do require some getting used to. Dentures also require a special cleaning routine to keep them fresh and prevent stains.
Quick facts about dental implants
Implants are designed to mimic the structure of natural teeth. Each implant includes a post that’s embedded in your jaw and an artificial tooth or crown that attaches to the post either directly or using a third part called an abutment.
Dental implants typically take two office visits. At the first visit, the post is implanted and an impression is made. Then, the post is left alone for several weeks, giving it time to fuse with your bone. The crown is attached at the second office visit.
Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, or they can be crafted to replace multiple teeth — even an entire row of teeth. Once in place, an implant looks, feels, and works just like a natural tooth.
Dentures vs. implants
Dental implants have soared in popularity in recent years for several reasons. First, because they’re designed more like a natural tooth, most people find them to be far more comfortable than dentures, feeling more like a natural tooth than a denture that rests on top of your gum.
Dental implants are easier to care for with regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups. There’s no risk of slippage, no need for sticky adhesives, and no worries about food getting stuck like it can with a denture. You can also eat whatever foods you like, while dentures usually mean you need to limit or avoid foods that are very hard or sticky.
One big advantage of implants is that they may help prevent additional tooth loss. The embedded post acts like a natural tooth root to stimulate bone replacement in your jaw, preventing jaw thinning that weakens teeth and eventually leads to tooth loss. Because dentures rest on top of your gum, they can’t stimulate bone replacement, which is why the bone under a denture grows thinner over time.
That said, dental implants do require a healthy jawbone for the post to be successfully implanted. If your jawbone is too thin to support an implant, Dr. Kang can perform a bone graft to augment your bone and provide additional strength.
The right choice for you
Dental implants and dentures both replace missing teeth, but they each take a very different approach. Regardless of which option you choose, you should never ignore a missing tooth, since even one lost tooth can lead to a host of complications.
To learn more about implants or to find out if they’re a good choice for you, book an appointment with Dr. Kang online or over the phone today.