Dental Implants vs. Dentures
From the Desk of Dr. Deyton - Dental Implants: The Best Answer to Loose or Missing Teeth
If you have a loose denture or a missing tooth, then you need to know about the miracle of dental implants. With new techniques, you may be able to look better and chew better the same day!
Most dentists don’t learn how to restore dental implants during their dental school education. I was fortunate to do my post-graduate residency at a Veterans Administration hospital where I had advanced training in dental implants. Most of my patients were older and had missing teeth. Many of them struggled with loose dentures or partial dentures.
I’ve put together this guide to dental implants so that you can make an informed decision about whether implants are right for you. I hope you find this guide helpful.
If you have more questions about our Kansas City dental implants or other dental health concerns, I would be honored to assist you personally. Please don’t hesitate to call me at (816) 587-6444 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dental Implants: The Best Answer to Loose or Missing Teeth
This guide will explain some commonly misunderstood facts about missing or loose teeth and why dentures are often an ill-fitting solution to this problem. I’ll also share three real-life patient stories that explain how dental implants can be the best answer for many people facing this issue.
Loose or Missing Teeth Affect More Than Just Eating
Here’s what I learned right away from my Veterans Administration patients with loose or missing teeth: it wasn’t that they couldn’t eat. People with missing teeth learn what foods they can eat comfortably. Instead of steak, they eat mashed potatoes.
Instead of crisp carrots, they eat overcooked broccoli. Instead of taking an apple, they choose pudding. For my patients with loose teeth, I saw meals turn from a pleasure to a trial.
And it wasn’t that my patients with loose or missing teeth couldn’t talk. People with missing teeth just talk less, so that their teeth won’t embarrass them. Instead of enjoying long and animated conversations, most of my patients responded with yes or no, or with nods. Honestly, their behavior was often misinterpreted as depression or psychological problems, when many of them were simply embarrassed!
One more thing: it wasn’t that my patients with loose or missing teeth were unhappy. People with missing teeth look unhappy because they rarely open their mouth to laugh out loud. I would watch them in the cafeteria. Often they would come with family—a spouse, or a daughter or grandson. They would nod and flash a quick, closed smile, which made it seem that they were in a bad mood or were holding something back. But I learned the real reason when they told me in the dental clinic: they felt they had to be careful so other people wouldn’t see their loose or missing teeth.
Dentures Are Not a Replacement for Teeth
This is the most important thing to understand about dentures:
Dentures are not a replacement for teeth. Dentures are a replacement for NO TEETH.
I teach workshops to dentists and dental assistants about making dentures. I tell them that making dentures that chew like teeth isn’t difficult, it’s impossible!
Don’t get me wrong—I can make an excellent denture. But in my workshops, I teach dentists that everyone involved in making a denture must have realistic expectations about what it will be like for the patient when the denture is done. Here is what I teach dentists to communicate to their patients about dentures:
8 Critical Facts about Dentures
1. Dentures are not as stable as teeth. Teeth are attached to and supported by tooth roots under the gums. Dentures are held in by weak suction and by careful cradling by the muscles of the tongue and cheeks. You have to be careful with dentures to avoid breaking them loose.
2. Dentures don’t chew nearly as well as teeth. Studies clearly show that full denture wearers only bite about one-fifth as hard as patients with their natural teeth. It’s easy to understand why. The bite on the teeth is supported by roots anchored in the jaw. When a denture patient bites, gums are pinched between the hard plastic of the denture and the bone underneath. A denture wearer learns very quickly not to bite hard, or it will hurt!
3. Denture patients need to learn a new way of eating. In a denture, front teeth are “just for show.” The natural inclination of front teeth leans them forward, in front of the supporting gums. Denture wearers learn that if they bite on front teeth, the front teeth will tip up and forward, causing the back of the denture to break its seal and fall down. Denture wearers learn to cut their food in small bites and chew on back teeth only.
5. Denture patients need to learn a new way of talking. Words are formed when the tongue adapts itself in different positions relative to the teeth and palate. A new denture will change the shapes in your mouth. Initially, “S” sounds will turn into “Sh,” and “T” will turn into “Th.” It will take practice and patience to learn to talk without lisping.
6. Upper dentures may gag some people. In order to get a good seal, an upper denture needs to extend all the way to the back of the mouth. If it doesn’t extend far enough, it will fall down. Frankly, the back edge of an upper denture gags some people.
7. Lower dentures may hurt some people. A lower denture is harder to keep in place than an upper denture and may move around. This is because, unlike upper dentures that cover the palate and create a 360-degree seal, a lower denture has no suction. Lower denture movement may cause sores. In addition, the support area for a lower denture is smaller and sharper, so it’s more prone to “denture sores.”
8. Patients will have an extended adjustment period to dentures. A denture is an artificial prosthesis supported by gums. It will take time for denture patients to adjust to the denture and learn how to eat, speak, and function normally.
At best, dentures are a tolerably acceptable treatment for the condition of missing teeth. A conventional denture is much like a removable plastic leg: it’s better than nothing, but it’s not as good as some of the technologically advanced prostheses that are available now.
Turn a Loose, Uncomfortable Denture into a Comfortable Chewing Machine
Implants are the dental equivalent of a second chance for your mouth! Implants are titanium pins placed under the gums to give you teeth where you lost them or where you should have had them.
I’d like to share a few stories from my patients who found greater quality of life through dental implants. I have changed the name for each patient to protect confidentiality, but in each case, the story and quotes are real.
Story #1: Ruth*
* Name has been changed
Ruth always put her children first. Ruth and her husband worked hard so their kids could live in a good neighborhood, go to good schools, and go to college. Whenever there was a choice to be made, Ruth would sacrifice her own dental checkup to make sure her kids got theirs.
When I met Ruth, many of her lower teeth were sore and loose, and she had difficulty chewing. It’s one of life’s ironies—now that her kids were grown and Ruth could afford to have her teeth fixed, her lower teeth were unfixable.
Ruth tried a lower denture, but it was a struggle for her. The denture “floated” and pinched her gums, and she struggled to eat. Finally she decided to have implants to support her denture. After the implants were placed, the denture was attached so that she could snap it in “rock solid.” Finally, the denture didn’t move, and Ruth could eat everything comfortably!
This is what Ruth says now:
“My implant-supported teeth are so comfortable, I forget they are even there. I can eat everything! It’s wonderful!”
Implants Can Replace a Loose and Bulky Partial and Give You Your Teeth Back
Anybody who has ever worn a partial denture will tell you that it’s better than nothing, but barely. Partial dentures are a lot like wearing dress shoes—they look nice to other people, but you just can’t wait to get home and take them off! With the miracle of dental implants, you can get rid of your partial denture forever.
Story #2: Dorothy*
* Name has been changed
When I first met Dorothy she was 74 years young. Before retirement, Dorothy ran her own business. Now she enjoys life to the fullest. The first thing I thought when I met her was, “This lady has style!” No matter where I ran into Dorothy, in the dental office or in the grocery store, she was dressed to the nines. Dorothy had the knack of arranging every accessory to fit perfectly. Scarves, shoes, earrings, and hat were always perfectly selected. Dorothy could coordinate every detail, except her teeth!
Like many of us, Dorothy didn’t grow up rich. Early on, she couldn’t afford the kind of care she now enjoys. As a result, Dorothy had some missing back teeth. Over the years, she tried partial dentures, but experienced all the frustrations with her partials that most people do: they felt big, didn’t chew well, and collected so much food that she had to take them out immediately after eating to clean them. Finally she had enough and asked about implants. Dorothy decided on implant-supported crowns to replace her partial denture. Now she has “real teeth” that stay in place, and she can chew everything.
“I didn’t have enough back teeth to chew properly. Dr. Deyton and his staff were very good about explaining my options. I knew exactly what to expect. They took very good care of me during my treatment and I am so pleased with the outcome!”
Replace Missing Front Teeth and Gain the Confidence to Smile Again
Sometimes front teeth just don’t develop, or they may be lost in an accident. If you’ve ever had an unattractive or missing front tooth, you may feel that you can’t relax because of what people might think of your teeth. Now, with dental implants, you can restore your beautiful and natural smile.
Story #3: Sarah*
* Name has been changed
When Sarah was a young teenager, she was involved in a serious accident. Thankfully, she recovered, but she lost her two front teeth. For several years, Sarah wore a retainer that replaced her front teeth with obviously fake plastic teeth.
Sarah explained, “I was always hiding my smile, always afraid one of my friends would notice and make fun of me.”
Sarah and her mother found us after researching extensively for cosmetic dentists. Our job was to replace her teeth so that she could smile again. Together, we decided on implant-supported front teeth.
This is what Sarah has to say today:
“Dr. Deyton’s staff is always extremely kind, compassionate, and welcoming. As a very insecure teen, working with a staff like this made the process of finding the right teeth for me so much easier. My implants provide the security of knowing they will stay in place at all times. Dr. Deyton individualized them to fit my mouth and matched the color of my teeth perfectly.”
Still have questions about dental implants? We've created a Dental Implants FAQ page or you can call our office and we'd be happy to answer any questions you have.