Dental Implants vs. Dentures: Which is Right for You?

Are you missing one or more teeth? You are not alone: nearly 7 in 10 adults ages 35 to 44 in the United States are missing at least one tooth, and 25 percent of those over the age of 74 are missing all of their “pearly whites.” This means millions of Americans just like you are without a bright, confident smile. 

If you are missing teeth, please don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed! You can replace your missing teeth with dentures or dental implants… but which tooth replacement option is the best? Dentures and dental implants each have their own advantages and drawbacks, so it can be hard to decide between the two. Our Fairhope AL dentist can help you decide which is best for you. 

Do I Really Need to Replace Missing Teeth?

Missing teeth are more than a cosmetic issue – they can also affect your oral health and your overall health. 

Each one of your teeth helps your other teeth stay in place and healthy. Losing a tooth creates a gap between your teeth, and the teeth on each side of the missing tooth can drift into the gap. As they drift, they create more gaps that other teeth can drift into. Drifting teeth can also become crooked, run into each other, and even turn sideways for an unappealing smile. Drifting teeth can also be hard to brush and floss, which puts you at higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease. 

What’s more, missing teeth can cause unhealthy changes to your jaw bone. Strong, dense bone tissue holds your teeth securely in your jaw bone.  When you chew food, the chewing action applies pressure to your teeth. This pressure transfers down the tooth, into the root of your tooth and then into your jawbone. There, the pressure stimulates a biological process known as bone remodeling, in which your body breaks down your jawbone and builds it back up even stronger and denser than it was before. 

The remodeling process cannot happen without a tooth, though, because there is no way for the pressure to get down into your jawbone. When you are missing a tooth, the bone tissue beneath the missing tooth begins to break down and is not replaced. In time, your jawbone may lose so much density and strength that it loses its ability to hold your remaining teeth in place. 

Missing teeth can affect your overall health

Missing one or more teeth can make it hard to chew whole meats, fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods, and this can lead to poor nutrition. Some people with missing teeth experience pain from chewing, difficulty swallowing, or sensitivity to hot or cold food or liquids that can result in nutritional deficiencies, digestive problems, and weight loss or gain. 

A lost tooth also leaves your gums exposed. Your gums act as a barrier that prevents food and bacteria from getting to your tooth roots and jawbones, where they can cause nasty infections and gum disease. Research links these infections to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. 

Replacing the missing tooth or teeth with dentures or dental implants can help you avoid or overcome many of these issues. 

Dentures vs Dental Implants


Dentures have been around forever. In fact, the earliest dentures ever found date back to about 2500 BCE. Found in today’s Mexico, these dentures appear to be made from wolf teeth. Dentures found in Italy featured gold bands and wires that bound human and animal teeth together; these dentures date back to about 700 BCE. Fortunately, tooth replacement technology has come a long way throughout the centuries. 

Today’s dentures look better than ever before. Made from durable acrylic, nylon, porcelain, resin or metal, dentures can last for many years, although the denture experts at the American College of Prosthodontists (ACP) say that you should have your dentist examine your dentures regularly if your dentures are more than 5 years old. 

You can get a full set of dentures to replace all the teeth on your upper or lower jaw, or partial dentures that replace just a few teeth. Dentures are most popular among people who are missing sets of teeth rather than missing just one or two teeth.

Dentures cost less than dental implants, which makes dentures ideal for those on a budget. Partial dentures cost less than full dentures, with partials costing an average of $1500 without insurance and a full set of traditional dentures costs an average of $1800.

Modern dentures provide a number of other benefits. They are removable, for example, so you can take them out to clean them or for any other reason. You can wear dentures immediately after having one or more teeth pulled, so you never have to worry about eating without teeth or being embarrassed about your smile. Almost anyone who is missing one or more teeth can wear dentures, even people with unhealthy or weak jaws. 

There are drawbacks to wearing dentures, though. Dentures can slip and slide out of place while you are eating or speaking – and usually at the worst times. Wearing dentures that do not fit properly can lead to infection or tooth decay, which can lead to even more health problems. 

You also need to clean your dentures regularly, and replace them when they show signs of significant wear. Many dentists recommend taking out and soaking dentures overnight to remove bacteria, but many people avoid spending money on soaking solutions or get tired of taking this extra step to care for their dentures. 

Dental implants

Dental implants are permanent tooth replacements. More specifically, a dental implant is a metal post that your dentist precisely inserts into your jaw. The dental implant holds a natural-looking crown that is both aesthetically pleasing and quite strong. 

Dental implants are becoming a popular alternative to dentures, and for several very good reasons. Made from titanium or other durable metals, the dental implants themselves should last you a lifetime. With good care, the crowns can last for 10 to 15 years or even longer. Dental implants look, feel and function just like your natural teeth, except dental implants never get tooth decay. Dental implants are also easy to take care of: simply brush and floss as usual – no need to remove or soak these tooth replacements!

Perhaps the best advantage to dental implants over dentures is that implants never fall out when you are speaking, eating or laughing. 

Of course, dental implants do have their drawbacks. At about $5000 per tooth, dental implants cost more than dentures, for example. Dental implants also require many trips to the dentist and several months of healing before you get your permanent crowns.

If you are missing one or more teeth and are weighing your options, talk to your Fairhope AL dentist. A dental professional can explain the differences between dentures and dental implants in detail, and help you make the right decision.

For more information on dentures and dental implants – and for help in determining which may be right for you – contact Lagniappe Dental. Our dentist in Fairhope AL is always glad to answer your questions and provide insight into the differences between dentures and dental implants. Our Fairhope AL dentist also offers a wide variety of dental services that are sure to make you smile!


Call 251-517-3313 or request an appointment online to set up your first visit. We’ll be in touch soon.