Dental implants and partial dentures are both used to replace missing teeth. However, they differ in several ways, including how they are installed, their cost, and their long-term effectiveness.
A dental implant is a surgical procedure in which a metal screw is placed into the jawbone and allowed to heal for several months. Once the implant is fully integrated with the bone, a replacement tooth (called a crown) is attached to the implant, creating a natural-looking and functional replacement tooth.
Partial dentures, on the other hand, are a removable appliance that consists of replacement teeth attached to a gum-colored base. The base is held in place by a combination of natural suction and, in some cases, metal clasps that attach to adjacent teeth.
One of the key advantages of dental implants over partial dentures is their long-term effectiveness. Because dental implants are permanently anchored to the jawbone, they do not shift or move like partial dentures can. This allows them to function more like natural teeth and can make it easier to speak and chew.
Another advantage of dental implants is that they do not require any special care beyond regular brushing and flossing. Partial dentures, on the other hand, must be removed and cleaned daily.
Additionally, dental implants can help to preserve the jawbone. When a tooth is lost, the bone in the jaw begins to deteriorate, which can lead to a more aged appearance. Dental implants stimulate the bone, preventing this deterioration and helping to maintain a natural-looking smile.
One potential disadvantage of dental implants is their cost. Because they are a surgical procedure, they can be more expensive than partial dentures. However, many dental insurance plans will cover at least some of the cost of implants, and the long-term benefits may make them a worthwhile investment.
Another potential disadvantage of dental implants is the time required for the implant to fully integrate with the bone. The healing process can take several months, during which time the patient will need to use a temporary replacement tooth.
In contrast, partial dentures can be made and fitted relatively quickly, allowing the patient to have a replacement tooth (or teeth) within a few weeks.
Overall, both dental implants and partial dentures are effective options for replacing missing teeth. The right choice will depend on the individual patient's needs and circumstances. A dentist can help to determine the best option for each patient.