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Dentures Vs. Dental Implants: Which Is Best For Seniors?

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

You may suffer from health problems and low self-esteem if you have missing teeth. Dentures and implants are two options if you need to replace missing teeth. Before choosing the right solution, it is important to consider several factors, such as your budget, preference, and dental health.

The pros and cons of dentures and implants should be discussed with your dentist in detail. Dentures and implants aren't the only options. Dental bridges are also worth exploring. The loss of teeth is not just common among the elderly but also among young people. 

One in four people over the age of 74 is missing all of their teeth, and nearly 70% of adults aged 35 to 44 have at least one missing tooth. Seniors do not have a steady income and often need financial assistance for their medical expenses. Read our article on free medical supplies for senior citizens.

Dentures And Dental Implants Explained

You can get full or partial dentures as removable tooth replacements. The most common use of these implants is when several teeth are missing instead of one or two. Throughout history, dentures have made great strides. 

Dentures look more natural today because of technological advances. With dentures, you can remove them whenever you like, and they are less expensive than dental implants. 

People with weak or unhealthy jaws should consider dentures. You need to replace or clean them regularly if they show significant wear. Dental adhesives or suction hold dentures in place. Removing your dentures before going to sleep is important to let your gums heal. When not wearing them, submerge them in water or denture cleaner to prevent drying out, cracking, and warping.

Over the past few years, dental implants have become a popular replacement for dentures. The jawbone is surgically implanted with dental implants. Compared to dentures, they last longer over time, saving you money. Dental implants require fewer dental visits than dentures due to their ease of maintenance. Dental implants won't fall out when speaking or laughing in social situations. 

As a result, you won't have to worry about your dentures slipping while eating. Brush twice a day and floss once daily to maintain the health of your dental implants as you would your natural teeth. With proper care, dental implants can last a lifetime.

How Do You Know You Need Dentures Or Implants?

How Do You Know You Need Dentures Or Implants?

Dentures and implants aren't the only ways to restore your confidence when missing teeth. You may not be aware of the many health effects associated with missing teeth. The gums are easily infected when exposed. 

Food bits and bacteria can cause nasty infections if they are not removed. Heart disease and diabetes have both been linked to gum disease after infection. Your jaw structure is also affected by missing teeth. 

Your neighboring teeth may shift to cover your lost tooth's gap. The effect of this tooth shift may be cascading. The shifting of your teeth causes the jawbone to shift over time, resulting in a more unstable mouth structure. It is possible to lose even more teeth due to the above.

For more information on finding affordable dental implants, read our guide on the cost breakdown.

Choosing Between Dentures And Implants

Price, preference, jawbone, and tooth health all play a role in deciding the right solution. You should discuss your options with your dentist in detail since both dentures and implants have advantages and disadvantages. 

A denture or an implant is ultimately intended to replace a missing tooth. To help you decide which procedure suits your dental needs best, we will compare and contrast various aspects of the two procedures in the following sections.

Dentures Vs. Implants: Procedure

The bone in which dental implants are placed must be sufficient so crowns can be placed on them. First, a damaged root is extracted to make a dental implant. A hole is drilled into the jawbone once the root is gone or if it was previously removed. 

It consists of an implanted prosthetic root made out of a metallic post. Until bone starts growing around the post, securing it in place, a crown will be fitted on top of it. After the post is ready for the abutment, the piece that will fit over the top of the crown can take up to two months for the crown to be placed on it. 

Occasionally, the abutment is implanted along with the post. A crown - a tooth-like false tooth - is attached to the abutment as part of the last step. You can wear dentures regardless of how much bone is in your mouth. This prosthetic tooth is removable and can be fitted to the contours of your mouth. 

In addition to replacing all the missing teeth on both the upper and lower jaws, dentures can also replace several missing teeth. This type of denture is called a partial denture. When dentures are required to replace all the teeth, impressions are first taken of the upper and lower gums.

The length of your dentures will also depend on your bite alignment and the alignment of your upper and lower jaws, so your dentist will determine what length will allow you to chew and speak effectively. You will then receive a preliminary denture set from your dentist. 

Before the final set of dentures is produced, the dentures will be fitted into your mouth and adjusted if necessary. Special adhesive dentures bond to your gums, making them look like natural teeth. 

Dentures Vs. Implants: Cost

In comparison to dentures and bridges, dental implants are more expensive. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a dental implant may cost up to $2,200 per tooth, depending upon the dentist's location and other factors. It is most expensive to replace the teeth individually. 

If the existing teeth are healthy enough, the dentist may be able to preserve some of them using dental implants. It typically costs between $60,000 and $90,000 to replace all the teeth with dental implants.

A denture can replace a missing tooth at an affordable price. Partially removable dentures cost approximately $1,500, while full dentures typically cost $1,800. There will, however, be a difference in the price between types of dentures and how many adjustments are needed.

Dentures Vs. Implants: Maintenance

Standard dental hygiene for natural teeth applies to dental implants as well. Regular brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental check-ups, are all important. Maintaining dentures daily, however, is crucial to their long-term viability. Wearing them overnight, for example, isn't recommended. 

This period should be spent soaking them in water or using a special cleaning solution. Remove the dentures after eating and brush them afterward to keep them clean. If you have adhesive on your gums, you may need to brush it away. 

You will need to refit your dentures from time to time because your bite changes over time. If the original crowns of dental implants become cracked or broken, replacement crowns may be required.

Dentures Vs. Implants: Complications

According to research, infections and mechanical problems (loose posts, cracking crowns) can occur with dental implants, which are normally safe and effective alternatives to missing teeth. The failure rate of dental implants is approximately 5 to 10 percent.

Dentures commonly cause sores (ulcerations) on the gums and fail to stay in place. In addition to causing discomfort and speech difficulties, dentures can make eating more difficult and even alter your taste. Bone loss can occur as a result of dentures over time. Therefore, dentures should only be used when no other viable option exists.

Dentures Vs. Implants: Pros And Cons

As with any medical procedure, dental implants and dentures have their pros and cons, which can help determine which is best for you.

Pros Of Dentures

The pros of dentures are as follows.

  • A full row of teeth can be restored using dentures from an aesthetic standpoint. A confident smile can be regained with their proper fit and cohesive appearance. Your entire face can be affected by dentures. It is possible for your face to sag without them.
  • Almost everyone can benefit from dentures. Dentures may still be an option even if your jaw or teeth aren't in the best shape. Dental implants are secured by a strong jaw and healthy gums, whereas bridges require healthy teeth. Your smile can also be restored cost-effectively with dentures.
  • Maintaining and caring for dentures is extremely easy. Temporary dentures can be cleaned either in or out of your mouth. The only thing you need to do is rinse your mouth after eating. Dentures can be cleaned by soaking them in a glass of water when you are not wearing them. This should be done every night so that your gums can rest.

Cons Of Dentures

As with other options for tooth replacement, dentures have their drawbacks. Among dentures' cons are the following.

  • Your dentures will likely need to be replaced as they wear down and your mouth shape changes. Compared with replacing dental implants or bridges, it is relatively straightforward.
  • Getting dentures is not as easy as walking into a dentist's office. For you to get the best fit, dentists have to go through several procedures. They'll make molds of your mouth to replace single or decayed teeth. Once your dentures are properly fitted, they must be maintained.
  • It is often necessary to use dental adhesive to keep dentures in place. The glue needs to be reapplied after meals sometimes. 
  • Cleaning dentures requires removing them. Implant-supported restorations can be brushed and flossed, except for removable dentures.
  • Eating or speaking can cause dentures to slip out. 

Pros of Dental Implants

The following are the pros of dental implants.

  • A dental implant restores full chewing power, one of its greatest advantages. Implants are indistinguishable from natural teeth in most cases. Flossing and brushing are also possible with dental implants.
  • The lifespan of a dental implant is very long. Titanium implants integrate seamlessly with the jawbone. Titanium is biocompatible, which means the body does not reject it. 
  • Dental implants prevent bone loss. Lack of stimulation causes the jawbone in the space to deteriorate. The bone surrounding a lost tooth loses 25 percent of its volume in the first year without an implant, and the loss continues over time.
  • Dental implants maintain the stability of adjacent teeth. A gap between teeth causes adjacent teeth to shift towards the gap and hinder your ability to chew.

Cons Of Dental Implants

The following are the cons associated with dental implants.

  • A dental implant is a very costly option for tooth replacement. This cost is even higher if you need to replace more than one tooth.
  • Dental insurance usually provides cover for routine check-ups and treatments. Dental implants, however, are often not covered by dental implants. Some insurance companies can cover the crown part of the implants, which reduces the overall cost.
  • Dental implants require oral surgery, unlike other tooth replacement options. Infection, nerve damage, fracture of the jaw, or anesthesia problems are always risks associated with surgery.
  • Dental implants are not a procedure that can be completed in a single visit. You will need multiple appointments and procedures if you need bone grafts before implants.
  • There is a 5 to 10 percent chance that the dental implant might fail or be rejected by the jaw.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the difference between dentures and dental implants?

Dentures are removable prosthetic devices designed to replace missing teeth and gums, while dental implants are surgically placed titanium posts that fuse with the jawbone and support replacement teeth. Dentures can be complete (replacing all teeth) or partial (replacing some teeth), whereas dental implants are used to replace individual teeth or support dentures.

What factors should seniors consider when choosing between dentures and dental implants?

Seniors should consider factors such as cost, oral health, bone density, maintenance, comfort, and aesthetics when choosing between dentures and dental implants. Dental implants typically offer greater stability, functionality, and a more natural appearance but are more expensive and may require sufficient bone density. Dentures are generally more affordable and less invasive but may require more frequent adjustments and maintenance.

How can seniors determine the best option for their dental needs?

Seniors should consult with their dentist to discuss their specific dental needs, preferences, and budget. The dentist will evaluate their oral health, bone density, and other factors to recommend the most suitable option between dentures and dental implants.

Now that you clearly understand what dental implants and dentures entail and the associated advantages and disadvantages, you can better decide which of the two options would be the best for your dental issues. Your dentist is the best person to guide you in this regard.

To read more articles about government grants and private programs that can help alleviate your financial burdens, check out the rest of the Gov-Relations resources. If you are a single mother with financial troubles, read our blog post on hardship grants for single mothers.

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.

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