If you’ve lost one, several, or all of your teeth, you are likely wondering about what options you have to complete your smile. There are a number of factors to consider, such as cost, function, appearance, comfort, and longevity. Of course, what it all comes down to is, what is the best option for you.
For an expert opinion on which type of tooth replacement is right for you, contact Susquehanna Oral & Facial Surgery & Dental Implant Center in Williamsport, PA.
Curious how dental implants vs. bridges. dentures compare? Read on to find out!
Defining Implants, Dentures & Bridges
For those researching the topic for the first time, the various terms used might be a little confusing. So, let’s take a brief moment to define these tooth replacement options before we compare them.
- Dental implants. Dental implants are a type of dental prosthesis. There are typically three parts to an implant. There is the titanium implant post that is surgically inserted into the jaw bone. The abutment is the interface or connection between the implant post and the restoration (usually a crown). Finally, there is the restoration. Depending on your procedure, the restoration may be a crown (if a single tooth is being restored) or a bridge (if several teeth are being replaced).
- Dental bridge. A dental bridge is used to replace one or several teeth in a row. A dental bridge requires two healthy teeth adjacent to the tooth (or teeth) being replaced. Here’s why. The two adjacent teeth will be filed down so they can support the crowns that will then support the false tooth, known as a pontic. Dental bridges are cemented into place so they are not removable by the wearer.
- Dentures. A denture is a removable prosthesis that is used to replace one, several, or all teeth in an arch. Dentures can be fabricated from a composite resin, porcelain, or even zirconia. The most common types of dentures are complete dentures, which are used to replace a full arch of teeth, but there are also partial dentures that clip onto neighboring teeth. Most dentures have a gum-looking material and individual teeth.
Dental Implants vs. Bridges vs. Dentures: The Differences that Matter
Now that we have briefly defined the various types of dental prostheses, now is the time to compare dental implants vs. bridges vs. dentures and see how they stack up to one another. We will break these down by the factors patients most often identify as being important to them. These include cost, appearance, function, longevity and others.
- Cost. “How much do dental implants cost, exactly?” As much as we’d rather have patients choose the best option based on their individual oral health goals, cost is unfortunately a determining factor for many patients. If you are looking to replace a single tooth with a dental implant, you should budget somewhere around $1,800 to $2,500. If you are looking to replace more than one tooth, the cost only goes up from there. Replacing a full arch of teeth can cost you anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 for something like the All-on-4 procedure.A dental bridge can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, all depending on the materials used and the complexity of the procedure. If you are replacing several teeth, a partial denture may be the most cost-effective option. The national average for an acrylic partial denture is currently around $1,500. A complete acrylic denture may cost you roughly $3,000. But, if you choose premium materials, the cost for a complete denture can be as high as $15,000, putting you closer to the cost of dental implants. When you factor the costs, it’s also important to remember how long each of these treatments are designed to last.
- Longevity. Longevity is an important factor when deciding between implants, dentures, and bridges. After all, there is a huge difference between purchasing a prosthesis once versus having to replace it every few years. Dentures, while initially economical, require replacement every 5 to 7 years. Similarly, a dental bridge typically lasts 5 to 7 years, but can last 10 years or more with proper care. Dental implants can last a lifetime with proper care. However, the implant’s crown may require replacement after 10 to 15 years.
- Function. One of the biggest disparities in comparing implants, dentures, and bridges is in their performance. With dentures, you will always be aware of a foreign object in your mouth – especially when you eat and speak. Dentures, while better than having no teeth, will generally leave you with a diet of softer foods. A dental bridge can be damaged by particularly hard, crunchy, and sticky foods. Therefore, your dentist may recommend chewing tougher foods using the side of your mouth opposite the bridge. How does the performance of dental implants compare to the others? Once dental implants fuse with the jaw bone through a process known as osseointegration, they should be as strong and durable as your natural teeth. This means you can enjoy your favorite foods and pronounce words clearly.
- Appearance. Whether you are replacing a single tooth or multiple teeth, you want the end result to be esthetically pleasing. The great news is bridges, dentures, and implant-supported prostheses can all look great so long as you invest in quality materials. But, dental implants also have some material and structural advantages that generally lead to better results. Bridges can cause some gum tissue recession, which can cause some of the supporting structures to show through, diminishing the appearance. If you choose acrylic dentures, you may be disappointed to discover that some of the cheaper materials become discolored over time and darkening gum material is common.
- Comfort. Since you will be wearing your prosthesis for all or a significant portion of the day, comfort will be an important factor. Dentures do take some getting used to, and a poor fit, pressure sores, and slipping are among the main complaints. Denture adhesives and liners can help, but you should expect some occasional discomfort when wearing dentures. Since dental implants permanently fuse with the jaw bone, they feel very similar to natural teeth. Therefore, you should not experience any discomfort. Likewise, discomfort with dental bridges is rare (unless the bridge becomes bent, which can exert pressure on the adjacent teeth).