Dental Implant Alternatives
Posted on: June 15, 2021
If you want to replace one tooth, several teeth or all of your teeth, dental implants can be the most reliable long-term solution to restore your smile. However, dental implant costs are not affordable for everyone, and the surgery and timeline involved can also be challenging for some people. That’s why your dentist will make sure you know about dental implant alternatives.
To know more about your options and help you make an informed decision, read this quick guide to the pros and cons of dental bridges, traditional dentures and implant-supported dentures, what each treatment costs, and how they compare to dental implants.
Cost: $3000 to $5000
A dental bridge can be an alternative to an implant for replacing one tooth or several missing teeth. Rather than being implanted in the jaw, a bridge relies on the surrounding teeth for support, so the teeth on either side of the gap need to be healthy.
Dental bridge costs are based on the type of bridge and materials chosen and other factors.
Pros with Dental Bridges
- Natural-looking replacement teeth
- Prevents teeth from shifting into the gap
- May be more affordable than a dental implant
- No oral surgery
Cons with Dental Bridges
- A bridge can fail if the supporting teeth experience decay
- Risk of sensitivity or nerve damage after the supporting teeth are prepared for crowns
- Doesn’t support the jaw bone like an implant
- Will likely need to be replaced after 10 to 15 years
Types of bridges
There are several options for a dental bridge:
- Traditional bridge – supported by crowns fitted over the surrounding healthy teeth
- Cantilever bridge – supported by a crown on one side only, often used in the back of the mouth
- Resin-bonded bridge – supported by metal or porcelain wings that attach to the back of the surrounding teeth, often used for front teeth
Your replacement tooth and crowns may be made from tooth-coloured porcelain (ceramic) or acrylic for a natural appearance or porcelain fused to metal (PFM) if extra strength is needed. Metal bridges and crowns are a stronger option, but less popular for their artificial appearance.
If you choose a three-unit bridge supported by crowns, the two healthy teeth on either side of the gap will first need to be filed down in preparation. Your dentist will then take an impression of your teeth that’s used to design your bridge and crowns.
You’ll be fitted with a temporary bridge and crowns while your custom restorations are being manufactured. Once these are ready, they will be cemented into place. It takes a few days for crowns to bond fully with the teeth, so care must be taken when eating and brushing around the bridge.
Cost: $1200 to $6000
Removable dentures are usually the most affordable option for replacing teeth, but they can be less convenient than a fixed bridge and don’t support the jaw bone like an implant, which may lead to bone deterioration and premature ageing in the face.
Denture costs depend on how many teeth are being replaced, the quality of denture materials and the experience of the prosthetist (dental technician) designing your dentures.
Pros with Dentures
- Most affordable option for replacing teeth
- Can replace as many teeth as needed
- Natural-looking replacement teeth
- No oral surgery, unless you need complex extractions
Cons with Dentures
- Less strong and supportive than a dental implant
- Full dentures rely on suction, so may dislodge
- May cause pain, discomfort or difficulties with eating and speaking
- May need to be replaced or relined every 2 to 5 years
Types of dentures
The type of dentures you choose depends on how many teeth you want to replace:
- Full dentures (or complete dentures) replace a full set of teeth in the upper or lower jaw. They attach to the roof of the mouth or the gum by suction.
- Partial dentures replace one or several teeth. These are attached to surrounding healthy teeth by clasps.
Dentures may be made from acrylic or metal and are designed by our Prosthetist to look as close to natural teeth as possible.
Dentures Treatment process
If you need to have teeth extracted first, your dentist will recommend giving your gums time to heal before your dentures are made, otherwise frequent adjustments may be needed. You can be provided with immediate dentures to wear in the meantime.
Once your gums have healed, your dentist will take impressions of your mouth and design your custom dentures, which will be made by our resident Prosthetist. When your dentures are ready, your dentist will check that they fit correctly and give you advice about wearing and cleaning your dentures.
Cost: $8000 to $15,000
Also called implant-retained dentures or clip-on dentures, implant-supported dentures are full dentures that are retained using dental implants surgically placed in the jaw. This offers more stability than traditional dentures that rely on suction to stay in place. They also help to support the jaw, reducing bone loss and jaw shrinking.
The cost of implant-supported dentures depends on the type of dentures and number of implants required.
Pros with Implant-supported Dentures
- More stable and comfortable than removable dentures
- Improved biting force allows for a wider range of foods
- Don’t impair ability to taste like dentures attached to the palate
- Help to reduce bone loss in the jaw
Cons with Implant-supported Dentures
- Costs more than standard dentures
- Longer treatment time with more appointments
- Involves oral surgery and associated clinical risks
Types of implant-supported dentures
The two main options for implant-supported dentures are:
- Ball-retained dentures – use locator attachments that clip onto each implant separately, improving stability and retention
- Bar dentures – the denture clips onto a titanium bar that connects all implants in the mouth Your dentist may offer more options if you only want to replace one or several teeth.
Implant-Supported Denture Treatment process
Dental implants are surgically placed in the jaw bone to replace missing tooth roots. Your dentist will explain what’s involved in the dental implant procedure so you can decide if it’s the right treatment option for you.
After the implants are placed, it takes several months for them to bond with the jaw bone and form a strong foundation for your dentures. Your dentist will then take an impression of your mouth and design your custom dentures.
Find out more about teeth replacement in Perth
If you want to replace missing teeth and to know more about your options, book a consultation with Dr David Norcross of Perth Dental Implant Centre. We can give you all the information you need about implants and alternatives so you can make an informed decision about your oral health.
Dr David Norcross is a General Dentist who has dedicated the majority of his career to the ongoing education and placement of dental implants. David has completed a number of international implant surgery training courses, and has been fortunate enough to spend time learning from some of the most experienced implant surgeons in the UK, Australia and the US. Dr Norcross is a lecturer and mentor for MIS Implants and the Dental Implantology Academy (DIA). He delivers several dental implant training courses and live surgery demonstrations every year for new and emerging dentists, and places an average of 300 dental implants each year.
- Healthdirect. Dental bridge procedure [Online] 2019 [Accessed September 2020] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-bridge-procedure
- Healthdirect. Dental implant procedure [Online] 2019 [Accessed September 2020] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-implant
- Healthdirect. Dentures [Online] 2019 [Accessed September 2020] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dentures