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Dental Implants vs Dentures – which is the better option?

Find out which procedure fits you best!

NoFrills Dental circular logo

Written by NoFrills Dental

This dental article has been curated by the clinical team @ NoFrills Dental 🙂

November 22, 2021

dentist holdign model of dentures

Tooth loss can have a devastating effect on an individual’s appearance, motivation and self-confidence. Missing a tooth not only affects the aesthetics of your smile but the way you eat and speak as well.

Over the years, dentists have used a great deal of ingenuity in filling up those unsightly gaps to improve patient’s quality of life. Oftentimes, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which treatment method is the most suitable for your situation. In this article, we will discuss the differences between dentures and dental implants as viable tooth replacement options.

We hope this information leaves you feeling more informed about the choices that are available to you on your journey to achieving a happy, healthy smile.

Removable Prosthodontics

Removable prosthodontics are devices that replace teeth and soft tissues with a non-permanent prosthesis that can be removed. Dentures are the most common removable prosthetic devices on the market today.

complete upper jaw denture

Complete dentures

A removable prosthetic device that replaces all your natural teeth and associated structures. They can be used in both upper and lower jaw.

partial dentures

Partial Dentures

A removable prosthetic device that restores the form and function of your jaw by replacing one or more missing teeth.

complete upper jaw denture

Complete dentures

A removable prosthetic device that replaces all your natural teeth and associated structures. They can be used in both the upper and lower jaw.

partial dentures

Partial Dentures

A removable prosthetic device that restores the form and function of your jaw by replacing one or more missing teeth.

person putting on denture

How do my dentures stay in place?

Denture bases are made of acrylic or cobalt chrome. Stainless steel clasps are sometimes fixed onto the denture to provide retention, support and prevention from dislodging.

A vacuum-like seal is created between your hard palate and full upper denture, enabling it to stay in its position. Your saliva can significantly help in this process as well! For lower complete dentures, your prosthodontist designs these appliances so that it can extend and cover the appropriate anatomical structures in your lower jaw. This will keep the denture stable when eating and speaking.

For partial dentures, support can be achieved through the combination of your teeth, mucosa and the components incorporated into the denture design itself.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are a permanent option for the replacement of missing teeth. These devices are screws that are drilled into your jawbone that acts like a ‘tooth root’. A crown, bridge or overdenture (we’ll explain later!) will then be mounted onto these screws.

Evidence has shown that dental implants offer predictable long-term results. They give you the look of a real tooth and have a more secure fit as compared to bridges and dentures.

Dental implants are the most reliable and predictable dental procedure with a success rate of 90-95%. It has put them at an edge for most dentists and is more reliable than dentures and conventional dental bridges.

However, they are relatively more expensive than any other prosthesis that are used to replace missing teeth. The good news is that they are Medisave claimable, so that’s a huge load off your shoulders!

Single Dental Implant

How do my dental implants stay in place?

Titanium implant screws are surface treated to allow it to fuse and form anchorage into your jawbone under all normal conditions of oral function. This process is called osseointegration. Above this titanium screw lies another screw attachment which allows your implant crown, bridge or prosthesis to fit on top of.

When the sterile titanium screw is surgically inserted into the jawbone, the titanium oxide (TiO2) layer on its surface provides an area to which mineralizing bone matrix can attach. Once the implant is introduced into the jawbone, proteins from the patient’s blood are exposed to the surface almost immediately. The body recognizes the implant as its own rather than a foreign body, leading to osseointegration.

Implants vs Dentures

old lady reading a book

The look, feel and functionality

Implants will undoubtedly look and feel more natural in the mouth as they are surgically drilled into your jawbone. They can withstand a variety of functional forces, are tough and cannot warp, bend or buckle when pressure is exerted onto the tooth. The biting and chewing ability of patients improve significantly after receiving implant supported prosthesis in comparison to conventional dentures.

Research suggests that denture wearers have only about one fourth to one fifth the bite strength and chewing forces as compared to patients with their natural dentition. This is because dentures rest on your gums for support and can slip slightly when your mouth moves as they are not anchored into your jawbone.

dentist performing implant procedure

Treatment process

Implant treatment usually involves about two surgical procedure visits, followed by a couple of review appointments after. The surgical placement of implants is performed by an implantologist, oral surgeon or a general dentist with the qualification of implant placement. They are normally done under local anesthesia in the dental chair.

During the first visit, your dentist will incise a small flap in your gums and drill the implant into your jawbone. You will probably feel a bit of vibrations and pressure during the process but rest assured, this won’t be painful at all. The implant screw and abutment are attached, and gums are sutured up for it to heal. A temporary crown or denture will be given to you to wear while the site is left alone to heal and for the implant to osseointegrate. This process takes around six months.

If you do not have sufficient bone mass to hold your implant, your dentist may need to carry out an additional procedure before placement of the implant screw. A sinus lift is a surgical procedure whereby space is created in your upper jaw for bone to be placed (via a bone graft) before dental implant placement. Your sinuses are empty space cavities located at either side of your nose. The procedure involves lifting the floors of these space cavities to accommodate new bone.

Read more about sinus lift and bone grafts here.

Having dentures fitted is usually a more straightforward and less invasive procedure than implants. Here is a small summary of the steps and appointments required for the fabrication of a denture:

Visit Duration Procedures

Visit 1

(After consultation)

15-20 min

First Impressions:

  • Dental Impressions (moulds of your teeth) are taken using a material called alginate.
Visit 2 15-20 min

Taking a Record of your Bite:

  • Your dentist will take records of how you bite together using wax blocks.
  • They will proceed to design your denture and send all the information to the lab so that they can make a special tray for second impressions.

Visit 3

(Sometimes combined with Visit 2)

15-20 min

Second Impressions:

  • Second dental impressions are taken using alginate on a custom-made special tray.
  • Your dentist will go through the shade guide with you to select the best shade/colour for your artificial denture teeth.

Visit 4

(One step closer to getting your denture!)

20-30 min

Try-in:

  • The dental technician makes a wax model of your denture and your dentist will try this in your mouth.
  • They will then check if everything is in place and that you are happy with the appearance of the denture as a whole.
  • If the appointment goes smoothly, your prosthodontist will give the green light to the lab to make the final denture.
Visit 5 20-30 min

Final Fit:

  • The bespoke set of dentures are tried into your mouth.
  • Final adjustments will be carried out and the denture is yours to take home!

Visit 1

(After consultation)

Duration: 15-20 min

First impressions – 

  • Dental Impressions (moulds of your teeth) are taken using a material called alginate.

 

Visit 2

Duration: 15-20 min

Taking a record of your bite –

  • Your dentist will take records of how you bite together using wax blocks.
  • They will proceed to design your denture and send all the information to the lab so that they can make a special tray for second impressions.

 

Visit 3

(Sometimes combined with Visit 2)

Duration: 15-20 min

Second impressions –

  • Second dental impressions are taken using alginate on a custom-made special tray.
  • Your dentist will go through the shade guide with you to select the best shade/colour for your artificial denture teeth.

Visit 4

(One step closer to getting your denture!)

Duration: 20-30 min

Try-in –

  • The dental technician makes a wax model of your denture and your dentist will try this in your mouth.
  • They will then check if everything is in place and that you are happy with the appearance of the denture as a whole.
  • If the appointment goes smoothly, your prosthodontist will give the green light to the lab to make the final denture

Visit 5

Duration: 20-30 min

Final fit –

  • The bespoke set of dentures are tried into your mouth.
  • Final adjustments will be carried out and the denture is yours to take home!

 

dentist holding model of denture and toothbrush

Aftercare and maintenance

If you don’t give your implant as much care as it deserves, there is a risk of developing peri-implant gum diseases which can lead to bone loss and ultimately, implant failure. You can read more about implant infections here.

You can look after your implant the same way you look after your natural teeth. This involves:

  • Brushing along the gumline and implant prosthesis with a soft-bristled toothbrush,

  • Cleaning in between your teeth using floss or interdental brushes. Your dentist may recommend specific cleaning aids designed to clean between your implants,

  • Changing your toothbrush regularly (every 6-9 weeks) or once you notice that the bristles have worn down significantly,

  • Attending your six-monthly dental checkups with your dentist,

  • Avoiding or cutting down on smoking as it puts you at greater risk of developing implant-related gum diseases

For dentures to remain viable in the long term, greater dental maintenance is required. It usually takes about a few weeks to get used to your prosthesis and your dentist will provide you with tips to help you manage any discomfort you experience.

Here are some basic denture care tips which are useful:

  • Leave your dentures out when you are sleeping at night, soak them in cold water overnight,

  • Clean your dentures using a soft brush and some mild hand soap,

  • Do not use toothpaste to clean them as they can be very abrasive to the acrylic of your dentures!

  • Clean your dentures 3-4 times a week with a cleaning solution such as Steradent,

  • Rinse your mouth with water after meals to get rid of food debris.

woman sitting on couch thinking

Can my dentures last for life just like implants?

You should visit your dentist every 5-7 years to get your old dentures replaced. The acrylic material in your dentures is porous. This attracts bacteria and absorbs unwanted odours, creating a very unsanitary environment in your mouth.

In addition, artificial teeth on your denture will wear down over time when chewing and grinding foods. Stains can also build up which are difficult to remove.

 

piggy bank with money on the side

Costs of dental implants

Dental implants are more expensive than dentures. This is because they are a complex surgical procedure and made of high-quality materials (the implant screw is made of titanium and crown is normally made of ceramic or porcelain). In comparison, dentures are made of acrylic or cobalt chromium.

Dental implants can range from $2,200-$8,000 depending on the type of implant system, material, skill of the dentist and the type of surgery required. If a sinus lift or bone grafting is required, this incurs extra costs as well. You may be able to claim a percentage of your implant surgery or bone grafting costs through Medisave.

If you do not have enough savings in your Medisave account, you can opt to use the Medisave account of your immediate family members to claim for surgery. Speak to your dental receptionist and they will be able to advise you on the claim limits and best ways to pay for your surgery.

Get an in-depth breakdown of you implant costs here.

Unfortunately, Medisave will not be able to cover the costs of your dentures as they are not surgical procedures. The cost of dentures depends on the number of teeth that need to be replaced, the type of denture material, the skill and expertise of your dentist and finally, the design and fabrication of your replacement teeth. Dentures typically range from $250-$1,000 depending on the factors mentioned above.

Success rates and lifespan

Various studies have reported on the success and survival of implants in private practice. There are very high cumulative survival and success rates achieved after 3 years (> 99%) and 5 years (97%) after implant placement. Another study deduced that implants have shown to have high long term success rates ranging from 97.8% to 100% at a 5-year to 10-year follow up.

The key to ensuring that your dental implants last for life is to be committed to your implant procedure. Dental implants are a lifetime commitment, and you have to be prepared to take care of them. You may have your implants placed by the best dentist in the world but they can fail if you don’t look after them well. Commit to making regular checkups, brushing and flossing regularly to get the best out of them!

Summary Table

In the table below, we have compiled a short summary table synthesizing the pros and cons of implants vs dentures:

Pros Cons
Dentures
  • Affordable
  • Non-invasive
  • Easy to clean
  • Removable

  • Needs to be replaced every 5-7 years
  • Does not support bone health
  • Can become loose and unretentive as the years go by
  • Do not look as natural
  • Can slip around the mouth making speaking and eating difficult
Implants
  • Behave like natural teeth
  • Are very strong
  • Supports bone health, and preserves facial structure
  • Can last a lifetime
  • Will not get in the way of eating, speaking and chewing
  • Predictable outcome, good track record of success

  • Procedure is invasive and replacement of tooth takes several months
  • Expensive
  • More surgical procedures required if patient has insufficient bone (i.e. sinus lift and bone grafting)

Dentures

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Non-invasive
  • Easy to clean
  • Removable

Cons

  • Needs to be replaced every 5-7 years
  • Does not support bone health
  • Can become loose and unretentive as the years go by
  • Do not look as natural
  • Can slip around the mouth making speaking and eating difficult

Implants

Pros

  • Behave like natural teeth

  • Are very strong

  • Supports bone health, and preserves facial structure

  • Can last a lifetime

  • Will not get in the way of eating, speaking and chewing

  • Predictable outcome, good track record of success

Cons

  •  Procedure is invasive and replacement of tooth takes several months

  • Expensive

  • More surgical procedures required if patient has insufficient bone (i.e. sinus lift and bone grafting)

Some extra bits: What are dental implant retained overdentures?

overdenture

Implant retained overdentures are removable dental prostheses supported by oral tissues and retained by dental implants. They represent a treatment option for many patients unable to tolerate conventional full dentures.

Overdentures are a more stable alternative to traditional dentures. They rest directly on your gums and are clipped into place by two to four implant screws placed on your upper or lower jaw.

In these patients who have struggled with insufficient complete denture function, implant overdentures offer necessary retention and stability and replacement of lost hard and soft tissues in a manner that fulfils aesthetic, phonetic, and functional requirements.

Dentures vs Dental Implants – So which is better?

woman sitting on dentist chair

While anyone can get dentures, dental implants may not be suitable for patients who smoke or drink heavily, have had radiotherapy to your jaw area, take recreational drugs, are on bisphosphonates or have uncontrolled diabetes.

Your dentist will perform a thorough clinical assessment and discuss which treatment option is the best for your case.

What if I am suitable for both? Which should I choose?

If you can afford it, we would recommend implants over dentures. They offer a better quality of life as they are the closest to natural teeth and have more predictable and stable outcomes. Still cannot decide between both? You can consider looking into dental bridges.

If you are missing one or more teeth, a dental bridge is a suitable option to filling their gap. There is a large amount of evidence documenting high patient satisfaction with dental bridges. If you would like to find out more about how dental implants compare to bridges, you can read about them here.

Conclusion

Dental implants and bridges are both effective ways to restore gaps between your teeth. Even through dentures are the more affordable option, they may not necessarily be the most comfortable or permanent fix. Implants provide you with the assurance that daily activities such as eating, speaking and smiling will not be compromised and you can live your life with ease! NoFrills Dental is always on hand if you want expert advice on whether a dental implant or denture is the right tooth replacement system to meet all your requirements and to restore your smile.

NoFrills Dental Team of Professionals | Professional Team of Dentists in Singapore | Best dentists in Singapore

References

Looking to get started on your brand new & improved smile? Speak to our dentists today!

Our team of experienced dentists are fully dedicated to providing patients with high-quality and affordable dental care. Our dentists are well-versed in the cosmetic dentistry, and highly adept in producing highly aesthetic and long lasting results for all of our patients.

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Our Dental Clinics

We are conveniently located at these locations:

NoFrills Dental @ Suntec City

3 Temasek Boulevard
Suntec City (North Wing)
#03-317
Singapore 038983

T: +65 6337 7319
E: suntec@nofrillsdental.com.sg

NoFrills Dental @ Marina Square

6 Raffles Boulevard,
Marina Square,
#B1-11
Singapore 039594

T: +65 6227 8885
E: marinasquare@nofrillsdental.com.sg

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