Dentures and dental implants are an expensive investment, but significantly help people maintain their health and lifestyle. Dentists can talk patients through choosing the best dental prosthetic for their situation. However, understanding their basic options can help patients find the best dental professional for them and ask the right questions.
How long will it take to get dentures?
Once you’ve decided to get dentures or dental implants, several factors will determine how long it takes for you to get your new teeth.
- Number of procedures: Depending on your bone structure and the number of teeth you need extracted, you may need to have more than one dental procedure to prepare your mouth. If you choose dental implants, you may need to see more than one dentist or doctor to prepare for the procedures, which will take more time.
- Denture or implant choice: Whether you elect to purchase removable dentures or have permanent dentures implanted installed will impact how quickly the item can be ready. Implants typically take longer simply because you may need more than one procedure before the permanent teeth can be affixed.
- Manufacturer location: Some dentists have an in-house lab where patients’ dentures are manufactured and repaired, while others send molds to an offsite manufacturer. Practices with an in-house lab will usually be able to make your dentures more quickly than those who outsource the work.
How do you pay for dentures?
Dental implants and dentures are expensive medical investments, ranging in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. There are several ways to pay for them and you should talk to your dentist about payment plans and methods if you need dentures and are concerned about the cost.
- Insurance: Dental insurance will likely pay for a portion of your restorative dentistry needs. However, insurance may only pay for certain types of dentures. Ask your dentist to give you a pre-treatment estimate to send to your insurance company so you can figure out what they’ll cover before beginning treatment.
- Direct financing: Some dental practices offer financing directly to patients. These offices may be able to offer payment plans or credit to consumers who could not qualify for traditional credit cards.
- Medical credit cards: Some credit cards exist specifically for medical expenses. These cards sometimes have special introductory interest rates or offers for new customers. Dental practices can tell you which of these credit cards they accept.
- Out-of-pocket: You can always choose to pay for your dental expenses out-of-pocket.
What type of dentist provides dentures?
Although many dental practices offer restorative dentistry services, you may want to find a specialist.
- Prosthodontist: Prosthodontics is a dental specialty recognized by the American Dental Association that focuses on dental prosthetics, including dentures and implants. Prosthodontists have an additional three to four years of training after dental school and they are especially knowledgeable about the appearance of dentures.
- Oral surgeon: If you elect to get dental implants, look for a practice that either has an oral or maxillofacial surgeon on staff or works closely with one. These surgeons are usually involved in placing the implants and are trained to understand the complexities of surgical procedures involving the mouth or face.
What are dentures made from?
Dentures and implants must look natural, feel comfortable and be medically safe. It’s important to select a denture made from materials that will meet your needs.
- Teeth: The teeth portion of dentures and dental implants are typically made from acrylic or porcelain; both materials have advantages. Acrylic tends to be less expensive, but these teeth wear more quickly. Porcelain teeth will hold up better, but are more fragile and can be easily damaged if they’re dropped.
- Base: The base of dentures, which holds them in place, can be made of several types of material. Whether or not the base will be seen is the most important factor in the material chosen. Partial dentures and those that don’t cover a patient’s gums may be made from chrome cobalt metal. This material is both durable and light. Rigid and soft plastics are used when the base will be visible because these materials can be colored to match your gum tissue.
- Implant screws: The screws used for dental implants are usually made from titanium. Different manufacturers’ screws and implants have different features, like special textures that help the screws bond to your jaw bone over time.
What are the benefits of dentures or dental implants?
Restorative dentistry has many benefits and dentures or dental implants can improve many people’s quality of life.
- Oral health: Dentures or dental implants can improve your oral health because all the decaying teeth will be removed from your mouth before your dentist provides dentures. If you get partial dentures, you’ll be able to more thoroughly clean your remaining natural teeth. Dentures and implants also help prevent jaw pain by appropriately distributing the pressure from chewing.
- Nutrition: Eating can become difficult and even painful for those who need restorative dentistry treatment. Dental implants and dentures can make it easier to eat, which means it will be easier for people to get the nutrition they need.
- Cosmetics: Dental implants and dentures often make people look younger, helping many people feel more confident about their appearance. Dental implants can also help you avoid bone loss in the face, preventing premature aging.
Types of dentures and dental implants
Full dentures replace all the teeth or the complete arch on the top or bottom jaw bone. These may either be conventional, meaning they are molded and manufactured after the patient’s natural teeth are removed, or immediate, meaning they are created using molds taken prior to the extractions. Dentures fit over the gums and are held in place with adhesives.
Partial dentures repair some teeth while allowing patients to keep any healthy teeth. Keeping natural teeth helps prevent bone loss and reduces the impact on patients jaw bones when they’re chewing. The manufacturing process for partial dentures is similar to that of full dentures. They are often held in place by brackets around the patient’s remaining natural teeth.
Implant-retained dentures are a type of snap-on denture that attaches to small implants. These implants only provide additional stability; they do not absorb any of the pressure from chewing. Patients can remove these dentures on a daily basis.
Implant-supported dentures are a type of snap-on denture that attaches to larger implants and a metal bar that runs between the implants above the gum. This bar provides support for chewing, reducing the amount of pressure on the gums and reducing the chance of bone loss. Patients can remove these daily.
Overdentures fit over implants or some of the patient’s original teeth, which have been filed down. The implants or remaining teeth provide additional stability and may help disperse the force of chewing. Sometimes, the words “overdentures” and “implant-retained dentures are used interchangeably.
Permanent implants, also called fixed dental implant bridges, are false teeth that attach to metal screws implanted in the patient’s jaw bone. Dental implants are available to replace a single tooth, a few missing teeth or an entire arch of teeth. Dental implants can only be removed by a dentist and mimic natural teeth most closely. They prevent bone loss, provide support for chewing and last for decades. Patients care for these as they would their natural teeth. Full dental implants are often the most costly option.
Who should consider dentures?
Full and partial dentures are good for anyone who is missing a majority of their teeth. They may be the only choice for patients who have already experienced a substantial amount of bone loss in the jaw.
Dentures have a relatively low upfront cost (around $400 for each arch at some practices). They can also be acquired rather quickly, with patients getting fitted and picking up their dentures the same day at practices with an in-house dental lab. Dentures must be removed and cleaned every day. If they’re not properly fitted, patients may find them irritating because they will experience some movement. Dentures must be replaced every five to 10 years, depending on the materials they’re made from.
Who should consider dental implants?
Dental implants are good for those who have just had their original teeth removed or have not experienced a significant amount of bone loss. This choice will be especially appealing to those who lost their teeth at a young age because dental implants will prevent premature aging.
Dental implants, especially full arch replacements, are more expensive than removable dentures. They may take longer to get because patients will need to visit multiple specialists. Patients will often have temporary teeth attached first and then have permanent teeth affixed a few months after their initial surgical procedure. Dental implants can last several decades and function more like natural teeth than dentures.