According to the Statista Research Department, nearly 41 million people wear dentures in the United States alone. Chances are pretty high that you've got a parent, grandparent, or even great-grandparent that uses dentures. If so, you probably witnessed them having a hard time eating and speaking with them.

While there have been great improvements in dentures over the last decade, many people still want to know if there are any alternatives. Fortunately, there are.

Dental implants

Dental implants

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Dental implants are the best alternative to dentures. You can use a single implant and implant crown to restore one tooth, or you can pair several implants with a bridge to replace multiple teeth, or even an entire arch.

An implant-retained dentures are quite different than traditional ones. Dentures that utilize the support of implants are called overdentures. They can also be supported by any remaining teeth as well, but are mostly used with implants today.

Overdentures look exactly like traditional dentures, but instead of using suction and adhesive to stay in place, they are secured by dental implants. The denture snaps onto the implants and prevents it from becoming dislodged when eating or speaking.

  • Best tooth replacement option

  • Extremely stable

  • As functional as natural teeth

  • Expensive

  • Not an option in advanced bone loss cases

  • Long treatment time (many months)

Dental bridges

Traditional dental bridge

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Bridges are a great option for those who are not missing an entire arch of teeth. A bridge can replace one or two teeth in a row, but can't typically extend more than that. However, if there is a natural tooth in the middle of missing teeth, that tooth can often be used for more stability, which might enable you to have an even longer bridge.

A bridge uses abutments, which are crowns that go on the adjacent teeth. The abutments connect to a pontic, which is a replacement tooth for the missing one. For example, if you are missing just one tooth, you would have two abutments on healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth, and then the pontic in the middle. This is called a 3-unit bridge.

Bridges are not removable. Once they are cemented into place, they will stay there as long as they remain healthy. You will need to brush and floss the bridge to keep the gum tissue clean and the bone healthy. Even though the natural teeth will be covered by an abutment, they can still decay, so you must perform proper oral hygiene.

  • Natural appearance

  • Susceptible to decay

  • More expensive than a partial denture

  • Difficult to clean under

Removable veneers

Veneers placement

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Removable veneers are artificial teeth that look somewhat like a denture, but are made to cover your remaining teeth. They will not have any pink acrylic attached to them like a traditional denture does. You will need to have some remaining teeth in order to be a candidate for removable veneers. The removable veneers will clip onto your real teeth.

You can eat with these, but not everything. You should avoid hard or sticky foods, as they will cause the veneers to break. When possible, you should remove them before eating.

  • Aesthetically pleasing

  • Quick treatment

  • May not last as long as dentures

  • Can't eat all foods with them

FAQ

What is cheaper alternative to dentures?

Conventional dentures are the cheapest, most cost-effective replacement for your natural teeth. The only cheaper alternative is to do nothing, which will result in future complications and the inability to consume a proper diet. A partial denture will be cheaper than a complete denture, as long as you do not need to replace all the teeth in an arch.

What is the most durable alternative to dentures?

Implants are the most durable alternative to dentures. They are just as strong as your natural teeth and function just as well. Implants can be used to stabilize an overdenture, which is a more durable alternative to traditional dentures. The next best option is a bridge, but it will not replace the entire arch.

References

  1. U.S. population: Do you use dentures? - Statista
  2. Alternatives to traditional complete dentures - NIH
  3. Overdentures and swing lock partial dentures as alternatives to traditional removable prosthodontics: a survey of American dental schools - NIH
  4. Dental Bridge - ScienceDirect