What are the Options for Dental Prosthesis? Best, Worst, Cheapest, and More
Dentures, implants, and veneers all improve your smile. They are available at varying costs, are offered in a variety of types, and are used for both health and cosmetic reasons. But in the battle of dentures vs veneers vs implants, which one comes out on top and which is best suited XODENT™ your needs?
In this guide to dentures, implants, and veneers, we'll cover all of the basics, separate these three options, and help you make your decision.
Dentures vs Implants vs Veneers: The Basics
Many factors will determine which of these options is best for you. Before we get into that, however, we need to discuss just what these options are.
Dentures are available in several varieties but when most people think of dentures, they think about a complete set of false teeth, also known as a "full set" of dentures. These are designed to replace the upper and lower teeth and are designed in such a way that they fit snugly over the gums and allow for very little movement and slippage.
Implants and adhesive secure them in place and allow the user to eat, drink, and smile as if they had a full set of real teeth. The only difference is that there are no teeth underneath (or very few teeth, in the case of partial dentures) and the dentures can be removed and cleaned with ease.
An implant is a fake tooth attached to a screw that is drilled through the gum and secured into the jawbone. They can be used to replace one or more teeth without affecting any remaining teeth.
If the patient has lost a tooth that is affecting their smile or their ability to eat, and there isn't enough for a crown or veneer, an implant may be considered.
Implants are also added to support dentures and braces, which makes them a useful tool for assisting with other procedures.
A veneer is a polished cap that sits on top of the tooth. It is made from either porcelain or resin and can be fitted onto an existing tooth.
In recent years, veneers have become the go-to cosmetic procedure for celebrities and influencers looking for whiter, brighter, Instagrammable smiles. These celebrities often have veneers placed on all of their teeth or on the teeth that are visible when they smile.
However, they are also fitted on teeth that have become decayed or damaged, in which case they will restore the patient's smile.
Surgical Considerations: Invasive and Non-Invasive
Veneers, implants, and dentures typically require some form of intervention and local anesthesia. Arguably, dentures are the least invasive, as the dentist will just take a mold of your mouth and use this to create a suitable set of dentures. It's much the same procedure as getting fitted for a mouthguard.
However, unless they are being refitted, it's rare for someone who doesn't have any of their teeth to request dentures. Usually, they have a few teeth remaining. These may be broken or decayed; they may be suffering from gum disease. In such cases, the teeth will need to be removed.
The good news is that the extraction of rotten teeth is relatively easy, especially if the gums have receded. Impacted teeth are a different story entirely, and healthy teeth can be problematic as well. The dentist may need to cut the gum and apply a lot of force, which can be uncomfortable for the patient.
Veneers also vary with regard to complexity. There are two types of veneer: traditional and no-prep. The former is the most common and, more often than not, they are the most effective, long-lasting, and aesthetically pleasing.
The dentist will grind the tooth down and then add the veneer on top. This way, the veneer can be a little thicker without increasing the depth of the tooth, as it essentially just replaces what has been destroyed. The veneer adheres easily to the rough surface of the remaining tooth and, if applied properly, it can last for years.
With no-prep veneers, the healthy teeth are not destroyed, and a veneer is simply added to the tooth. These don't always have the effect that people desire, however, and they are often much less permanent and just as expensive.
Although traditional veneers require healthy teeth to be worn down, the gums are not cut and it's a relatively bloodless procedure, albeit one that still requires a local anesthetic.
For implants, however, the dentist needs to slice the gum and then drill into the bone. The post of the implant is then installed, with this post mimicking the root. The procedure is higher risk than veneers and much more invasive. It is still very safe, but the idea of having their gums cut and their bones drilled is something that understandably deters many patients.
Versatility: What Options do you Have?
Implants, veneers, and dentures all have many different varieties, and these impact how costly, complicated, and beneficial the procedure will be.
Implants can be "endosteal" or "subperiosteal", which means they are fitted in or above the jawbone. The former is always the most preferable option, but the latter is performed if the patient doesn't have enough healthy bone.
In the absence of healthy bones, the dentist may recommend bone augmentation, which involves restoring the bone to make it suitable for the implant.
In the above section, we noted how veneers can be non-prep and traditional, but there are differences in material composition, as well. Dentists can even add a temporary composite material, one that will simply peel away as needed. However, this is typically reserved for when the teeth have been prepared but the veneers are still being manufactured, ensuring the patient doesn't leave the clinic with half-destroyed teeth.
Last but not least, dentures have arguably the most variety. There are full sets, partial sets, snap-in dentures, implant-supported dentures, economy dentures, and more. The best option will depend on how many healthy teeth you have, what your budget is, and whether you want to rely on adhesive or implants.
The Overall Cost
On average, veneers cost around $1,500, while dental implants generally cost a little more. Even if you find a dentist willing to give you veneers for just $1,000 each, you'll pay $12,000 just to cover your 12 most prominent teeth in your upper and lower jaw.
Implants are designed to replace a few lost teeth and it's rare to get a mouthful of implants, but with costs so high, even just a few implants could lead to a bill in the low 5-figures.
Dentures are a much cheaper option.
It's possible to buy a set of dentures for as little as $300. These will be very cheaply made and may be more prone to damage. They will also look fairly cheap. But it's an option that you don't have with veneers and implants, and one that's good to have.
If you have a little more money in your budget, or a good insurance policy on your side, a good set costs between $2,000 and $4,000. In other words, you can get a high-quality set of dentures for around the same cost as 2 veneers and implants.
However, this just covers the cost of the actual dentures. You also have to think about tooth extractions, checkups, realignments, and more. And it's not just dentures that have these superfluous costs—implants and veneers also require regular checkups and X-rays and may need repairs and cleaning.
Longevity: How Long do They Last?
A good pair of dentures should last for up to 10 years, but it's not unheard of for them to stretch to 15 years. It all depends on how well they are made and maintained. Partials typically last longer than full dentures and you will need to wash them, rinse them, and get them regularly realigned to ensure they last for as long as possible.
Veneers should also last for 10 years and may last even longer, assuming they are properly maintained. The difference is that veneers are more prone to issues and these issues tend to be more severe.
For instance, if your dentures slip and fall, there's a good chance you will feel them and prevent them from falling out of your mouth. You can either close your mouth or catch them. When this happens with a veneer, however, there's a good chance you won't even realize it's not there. It could end up down the sinkhole or shattered on the floor.
It's a tiny little slip of porcelain that is very easy to lose and vulnerable to harm. Of course, if it's properly fitted, it won't slip and fall, and if you're careful, it won't break. But this isn't always a guarantee.
Sometimes you forget and bite into something hard. Sometimes, the veneer just doesn't adhere properly. If it's attached to a tooth that's had a lot of work, your dentist may struggle to fit the veneer. In such cases, they should offer to replace it free of charge when it falls, but only if you catch it, keep it, and take it to your next appointment.
As for dental implants, they are built to last and should remain intact for a lifetime. It really all depends on the type of implant fitted, whether a bone graft was needed, and how well it is maintained. However, you should be good for at least 25 years.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Dentures require a little more maintenance and care than other options, but it's not as difficult as you might think.
You just need to remove your dentures every night, allow them to soak, and then brush and rinse in the morning. With an XODENT™ kit, you'll have everything you need for a complete clean, helping to keep your dentures fresh all day.
Although this is often considered to be an additional and time-consuming step, it actually takes the place of regular brushing and flossing, neither of which are needed when you have no real teeth to brush or floss!
It helps to remove your dentures and rinse them after a meal, and you can also rinse with warm salt water on an evening, just to clear the bacteria in your mouth. But none of these steps are more time consuming or bothersome than regular brushing.
With implants, you can treat them just like any other tooth. They are strong and resilient and can be cleaned by brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Implants fit securely in place, so you shouldn't have any issues with food particles and bacteria getting into the root.
Use whitening toothpaste and whitening strips if you want. Just bear in mind that while this will help your remaining real teeth, it won't do much for your implants.
As for veneers, they are much more prone to damage. They are thin strips of porcelain and resin, and while they are designed to mimic tooth enamel, they are not as strong or thick. As a result, chips and breaks can occur.
It's still relatively rare for this to happen, however, and as with implants, veneers can be cleaned as part of your usual oral hygiene routine. You cannot remove them, and if you do, you'll need to book a dental appointment to have them replaced.
Refrain from using any temporary adhesives to restore your veneer if it slips. These solutions are not as strong as the one used by your dentist and will cause the veneer to slip and fall. It may also make life harder for your dentist when they need to remove the veneer so they can reattach it properly.
Aesthetics: Which Solution Looks the Best?
It's hard to say which option looks best, as there are many variants at play. For most consumers, veneers are the go-to option for getting that Hollywood smile, while dentures are often regarded as looking "fake". But that's only because cheaper dentures are more common than cheaper veneers, and if you pay money for a quality service, they should look just as natural as each other.
For instance, many denture wearers opt for economy or DIY options, whereby they pay less than $500 and get something that is cheaply made and fitted. There is no realignment, and if the mouth changes, they just use more adhesive.
Veneers are rarely cheap, but it's not uncommon to see really bad ones. It's something you may have witnessed in a celebrity or two. They stick out more than they should, are much bigger than they should be, and have an unnatural whiteness.
Again, this is an indicator of quality and suggests that the dentist wasn't paying much attention to the color or placement of the veneers, or that the patient insisted on the whitest and biggest veneers possible.
Dental implants are not impervious to these issues. However, as they are working with a single tooth and not a full set, and as they don't have to worry about keeping the original tooth in place, they have more to work with. They will measure the screw size and ensure that the tooth is the right shape, size, and color.
Ease of Chewing and Eating
All of these options, when fitted properly by a skilled dental professional, will allow you to eat what you want. However, there are exceptions.
No-prep veneers and poorly fitting veneers are prone to slipping when you chew. They may also break when you eat hard food, such as an errant popcorn kernel. This is true for real teeth as well, and it's generally something you should try to avoid.
If your dentures don't fit snugly, it may be difficult to chew tough meat and other hard and chewy foods, but adhesive can help. As long as you don't overdo it and you take good care of your dentures, you should be okay.
Where dental implants are concerned, issues are very rare, and you can generally treat them like you would normal teeth.
Dentures vs Implants vs Veneers: Which Option is Best for You?
As you can see, there is no "best" option. Some patients will be better suited to veneers, others should look into dentures, and there are those for whom implants are ideal. It all depends on your budget, oral health, and needs.
These solutions can be combined, as well, and there's no reason why you can't start with one and then advance to another.
For instance, if you have most of your teeth but are missing a few molars and pre-molars and have a lot of discoloration, you can opt to have implants at the sides of your mouth and veneers at the front. It's a solution that will restore your smile and ensure everything is white, healthy, and gleaming.
In 10 or 20 years, with the progression of gum disease, your dentist may suggest removing the veneers, extracting your teeth, and installing dentures.
If you have very few teeth and your gums are diseased, you'll want to go straight to dentures. And if your teeth are healthy and full but just a little discolored, consider whitening and no-prep veneers.
All of these options can be discussed with your dentist. Book an appointment, speak about your concerns, let them know how limited your budget is, and ask for their opinion. They are there to help, after all, and will always recommend the best option.