Implants vs Dentures – The Pros and Cons

Losing teeth can be embarrassing, painful, and dangerous to your health. Luckily, there are several options for replacing lost teeth with fully-functional, natural-looking prosthetics. The two most common options are implants and dentures. Knowing the pros and cons of each method can help you decide which is right for you.

Implants

Dental implants are surgical anchors for prosthetics like crowns and bridges. A small titanium post or screw is placed in the jawbone, replacing the missing tooth root. 

This titanium implant will bond directly with your jawbone, like a natural tooth, providing an anchor for the cosmetic crown. The soft tissue is then rebuilt to fit tightly around the new teeth (Information from Sierra Dental, a dentist office in Calgary).

Pros

•    Long-lasting: Implants typically last for about 20 years. With proper care, they can last for the rest of the patient’s life. 

•    Low Maintenance: These artificial teeth require about the same amount of care as natural teeth.

•    Low Risk: Dental implants have a success rate of over 95%.

Cons

•    Expensive: Replacing a single tooth could cost $3,000 to $4,500. A full set of implants costs anywhere from $20,000 to $45,000. Most dental insurance plans have limited coverage for dental implants (averaging $1,500, or half the cost of a single implant) or do not cover the procedure at all (Source: NY Times Health).

•    Lengthy Process: Implants require the skills of both a dentist and surgeon. After the titanium implant has been placed, it typically takes six months for the post to bond with the jawbone. After the implant has bonded, several appointments may be necessary to finish fitting the patient with prosthetic teeth.

•    May Require Other Surgical Procedures: Dental implants in the upper jaw may negatively affect the sinuses. This can be corrected through sinus augmentation, but it requires further surgical care.

Dentures

Dentures are artificial teeth mounted on a plate or frame. The full set of teeth most people think of when they hear “dentures” is known as a complete set. Complete dentures replace all of the upper or lower teeth. 

However, patients who retain some natural teeth may still use dentures. Partial dentures cover gaps of three teeth or more and are usually fitted and anchored to the remaining natural teeth.

Pros

•    Inexpensive: A full set of dentures, for both the upper and lower teeth, costs about $2,500 (less than the cost of a single dental implant).

•    Covered by Most Insurance: Most insurance providers cover dentures.

•    Easily Altered: Because dentures are not permanently placed, they can be altered for aesthetics or to correct fit problems more easily than implants. 

Cons

•    Uncomfortable: Plate dentures require oral adhesive to stay in place. However, this glue is not fool proof and dentures may slip while speaking or eating.

•    Unnatural-looking: Though the appearance of dentures has improved, they often look less natural than a bridge or implants.

•    May Cause Further Damage: Dentures do not preserve the jaw bone or soft gum tissues. Over time, dentures may contribute to bone recession and facial collapse. If dentures are anchored to remaining teeth, there is a high risk of these natural teeth wearing down or becoming infected.

Your eligibility for either reconstruction method depends on how many teeth you are replacing, the health of your jaw, and your financial situation. Patients who smoke or already have progressive jawbone degeneration will not have the bone density necessary for dental implants.  


Partial dentures or implant-anchored bridges may be used to replace several missing teeth, with similar success rates and equally natural-looking results. The right option for your mouth will depend on the location and amount of missing teeth, strength of your bone and remaining natural teeth, and the dental technology available to you.

If you are constantly trying to hide missing teeth, make an appointment with your dentist to talk about your reconstructive options. Dental implants or dentures can help you rebuild your beautiful smile, oral health, and confidence.

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