Dentures are prosthetic devices designed to replace missing teeth in the upper or lower jaws. They are supported by the surrounding soft and hard tissues in the mouth. In order to understand the difference between dentures and dental implants, we must first understand what is a denture. Most dentures are removable dentures made of acrylic and can be full or partial design depending on the number of teeth that are being replaced. There are different types of dentures, some made of different materials including cobalt chrome metal or flexible acrylic. Dentures have been used for many hundreds of years, early reports that the romans used human and animal teeth fused together with gold bands for teeth replacement. The Japanese later improved their designs and made wooden dentures within the 16th Century.

Why dentures?

  1. Removable dentures offer many advantages to the patient that has multiple missing teeth.
  2. They are generally inexpensive when compared to other types of tooth replacement.
  3. Dentures can replace multiple teeth, even a partial denture can replace not only one space of a missing tooth but multiple teeth that are missing.
  4. Removable dentures can help restore function, mastication
  5. Help to improve the appearance if there are missing teeth. Removable dentures can restore the facial profile and if correctly made can be highly aesthetic.
  6. Dentures can restore self esteem which is lost when natural teeth are removed or missing.
  7. Help in pronunciation of words, missing anterior teeth can cause speech issues when trying to produce certain sounds like s’s

Disadvantages of dentures

  1. Can be uncomfortable, dentures can cause sore spots in the mouth especially during function which can lead to difficulties when eating
  2. Removable dentures do not prevent bone loss of supporting bone. The alveolar bone which supports dentures will reduce over time as it has no direct stimulus from the dentures during function. This bone loss causes further discomfort long term as the denture becomes unstable and requires replacement.
  3. Upper dentures tend to function better than lower dentures as they are held in place by the presence of a tight seal between the roof of the mouth and the upper denture. Lower dentures however do not have a similar area which to create a seal and hence can be quite unstable and uncomfortable.
  4. As mentioned in point number 3 the upper denture depends on a seal by covering the roof of the mouth, however this can sometimes cause patients to have a gag reflex. Many patients are unable to cope with upper dentures as they have an active gag reflex. Dentures can induce nausea.
  5. Dentures reduce the ability to taste food properly. There are taste buds on our palate and because upper dentures usually cover the palate the ability to taste food is reduced.

Fixed dental implant bridge in place

Dental Implants

Dental implants have been in use now for over 30 years. Their use has become more popular as now there is a an alternative to removable dentures. Dental implants are placed into the jaw bone and function like artificial tooth roots. Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth or even a complete full arch.  Implants are made of titanium alloy, the small screw is inserted into the jaw bone during a small operation that can be carried out under local anaesthetic or intravenous sedation. The technique of placing dental implants has improved over the years and today it is a highly effective and successful option for patients with missing teeth. The survival rates of dental implants after a 5 year period is around 90%.

Full dentures vs dental implants.

Where patients are missing a full arch of upper or lower teeth dental implants offer certain advantages. Implants can provide support for a fixed implant bridge. A minimum of 4 dental implants are required for a teeth on 4 solution. The fixed implant bridge is screwed onto the implants and is very similar to natural teeth. The roof of the mouth is not covered hence it is more comfortable and does not affect the taste of food. A fixed bridge supported on dental implants is stronger and can exert greater pressures during eating when compared to removable dentures. A dental bridge does not move hence there are less issues with sore spots during function like there can be with dentures. With the improvement of newer dental materials available it is possible to make beautiful highly aesthetic restorations on dental implants. Acrylic, composites, porcelains and zirconia have all made big improvements over time and offer excellent choices of materials that can mimic natural teeth.

Dental implants can last many years.

Dental implants require a minimum amount of bone volume in order to be placed correctly. The surgery although highly predictable needs be carried out by an experienced dental implant surgeon. Patients need to be in good health and have good oral hygiene for implants to be successful. As with natural teeth dental implants require maintenance with daily brushing and flossing and regular visits (6-12months) to the dentist and hygienist. Dental implants can last many years if they are well maintained and looked after. For more information about the differences of dentures and dental implants treatments please visit out website

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