Dental implants and dentures both serve the same purpose: they replace missing teeth of an individual. However, when it comes to costs and comfort, there are significant differences between the two.
Dental implants are expensive in countries like the US and the UK. Many patients in the US cannot afford this procedure due to the high costs and they delay the entire process. These patients opt for dental work outside their hometown. For instance, cosmetic dentistry in Bangkok or Mexico is any day cheaper and a more practical alternative. Dental Tourism in Mexico, India and Thailand supports patients especially from the first world nations to achieve their dental care goals at a price usually unheard of in their own country.
While planning the treatment for any patient, and choosing either implants or fixed/removable dentures, various factors have to be kept in mind. However, if costs are not a concern for the patient, implants are likely to be the treatment of choice, unless he is deemed unfit for them due to any other medical reason.
Convenience of Implants over Dentures
People who wear dentures are usually not happy with them. The dentures, especially the lower, tend to rock while eating and talking, leading to poor patient confidence. Besides, the removable dentures can be quite a nuisance as they have to be taken off frequently and placed back again. Also, they rub against the gum tissue, often leading to painful mouth sores.
However, if only a few teeth are missing, the patient can opt for fixed partial denture, which is not required to be removed and placed again. But again, there is one disadvantage: considerable reduction of adjacent teeth is done for the placement of a fixed denture.
None of the above problems are encountered with dental implants. An implant is fixed into the alveolar bone, like the root of a tooth, and a crown is placed over it. They cause little or absolutely no discomfort to the patient, and also maintain the integrity of the alveolar bone, which tends to shrink after the loss of natural teeth.
Implants are the most natural-like restoration of your missing teeth. If placed correctly, you might even forget you did not have a real tooth in that place.
Biocompatibility of Materials Used
In dentures, acrylic or cast metals are used for the base plate, and teeth are made of acrylic or porcelain. Some patients may complain of allergy with the acrylic used.
Implants, on the other hand, are made of titanium, which is bio-compatible.
The fabrication of a complete denture requires several visits to the dental office, and is usually completed within three to six weeks. Removable/Fixed partial dentures also usually require 2-3 appointments.
The procedure of placing in implant is invasive, as it involves a small surgery, which can be done on the dental chair, under local anesthesia. After the insertion of implant screw in the bone, it may take a few months for osseointergation, after which, the crown can be placed over it.
Implants can be way more expensive than the dentures, but since they are a near-permanent solution for tooth loss, it is believed that they might actually prove to be cost-saving in the long run because as the alveolar bone shrinks, the dentures tend to become loose, and may require replacement, relining or rebasing (done to improve the fit of an old denture).
Implants can be a costly option, but considering the significant benefits they have over conventional dentures, they are the treatment of choice for most patients. However, they are not advised for heavy smokers, and people who are unable to maintain good oral hygiene as osseointegration might be a problem in such cases, and may lead to implant failure.
Besides, diabetic or hypertensive patients, or those who are suffering from any other medical condition that makes them unfit for surgery, are also not advised to go for implants, as it may lead to some complications.
Also, if the alveolar bones have highly shrunk in any case, the patient may not be a candidate for dental implants as a minimum amount of bone is required to cover the implant on all sides. But if a patient with reduced alveolar bone still wants to go for dental implants, the bone can be raised with help of bone grafts to make it suitable for receiving an implant.
Each individual is a different case, and a treatment plan keeping the best interests of the patient can be decided only after a dentist thoroughly reviews the case.
* Osseointergation — the apparent direct attachment or connection of the bone with the implant
*Alveolar bone — thickened ridge of bone containing the tooth sockets
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