By David Hudnall, DMD

Are you missing all of your natural teeth? Dentures are a cost-effective way to replace the teeth that you are missing. They allow you to eat, speak, laugh, and help to restore your self-confidence. But traditional dentures are not without their drawbacks.

With dentures, it takes time to learn how to eat solid foods again. You also lose 80% of the chewing capacity that you had with natural teeth. Traditional dentures are completely supported by your gum tissue and jawbone that are prone to changes and shrinkage as you age, necessitating spending additional money on replacement dentures. What if there were a way to get back the benefits of natural teeth so that you could eat anything you wanted? Well, there is — implant-supported and implant-retained dentures.

implant-retained vs implant-supported dentures

Implant-Supported Dentures

Implant-supported dentures are full-mouth restorations entirely supported by dental implants. In other words, all of your biting forces are directed onto the dental implants, and the denture does not rely on the gum tissue for support.

For this to work, six to eight (or more) dental implants are required to support the denture completely. The greater number of implants allows the patient more options when it comes to the type of dental appliance used to replace missing teeth and restores the lifelike feel when chewing. While removable dentures that snap onto implants are one option, patients may choose a hybrid screw-retained denture, a fixed zirconia bridge, or even crown and bridgework to replace their natural teeth.

Love to eat steak or other tough foods? Multiple implants act to preserve the bone that supports the face and affords the patient the most natural and effective bite possible. Implant-supported dentures are the closest thing to having your natural teeth.

Since higher-quality materials are used to manufacture the restorations and a greater number of dental implants are required to support them, implant-supported dentures can be a more expensive choice for tooth replacement.

Some patients may also need bone augmentation or grafting procedures prior to implant placement in order to form a solid foundation for dental implants. Expect to spend $4,000 to $15,000 for an implant-supported denture and up to $30,000 per arch for all that is necessary to completely replace your natural teeth with a zirconia bridge.

implant-retained vs implant-supported dentures

Implant-Retained Dentures

In contrast to implant-supported dentures, implant-retained dentures require fewer dental implants and clip or snap into place for security. The denture continues to receive part of its support from the gum tissue. Because implant-retained dentures are removable, they can easily be cleaned and clipped back into place.

Several types of implant-retained dentures include implant overdentures that rely on two implants, usually in the canine areas, to stabilize the denture. The all-on-4 technique is another popular and cost-effective means to stabilize dentures with four implants. For patients with limited bone width, mini dental implants can be placed instead of endosteal implants to help improve denture security.

The price range for a single denture secured by mini dental implants can run from $2,000 to $5,000, depending on the patient’s anatomy and the quality of denture material used. For a denture secured by two implants, plan on spending $2,500 to $5,000. The all-on-4 technique commands, on average, $8,000 to $15,000 depending on whether bone grafts are needed.

Implant-retained dentures are a happy medium between conventional dentures and implant-supported dentures and allow a way for the wearer to experience some of the best attributes of both forms of treatment.

Implant-Supported vs. Implant-Retained Dentures

implant-retained vs implant-supported dentures

So, implant-supported dentures are more secure but require more implant procedures, while implant-retained dentures provide less stability but fewer implants. There are many other disadvantages and advantages, generally though, unlike traditional dentures, implant-supported dentures offer more permanent support and security. Let’s dive more into the similarities and differences.

Similarities

Both implant-supported and implant-retained dentures rely on dental implants to stabilize dentures while chewing, allowing you the ability to effectively break down and take on more difficult to chew foods with ease.

Differences

One practical difference between implant-supported vs. retained dentures involves the quantity of bone that the patient has to work with. In order for implant-supported dentures to be a treatment option, the patient must have an abundance of bone throughout the entire arch. The procedure for implant-retained dentures is able to take advantage of selected areas where the bone is plentiful for implant placement.

Which is Best?

That depends upon who you ask. For some people, implant-retained dentures allow them to function with dentures at such a higher level than traditional dentures they feel transformed. For others, they miss the feeling of being able to chew any type of food they want with total confidence and don’t like to be bothered with removing their dentures to clean them after meals.

Which Implant Dentures Should You Get?

There are several factors to consider before deciding to proceed with treatment. Let’s mention some of the most common concerns.

Cost

Most people look at the total cost of any given procedure and assume that it is not possible. While the cost of many of these procedures is greater than conventional dentures, treatment is designed to last much longer. It is also an investment in your overall health, saving you time and money in the long run.

Comfort

How aggravating are your removable dentures? Patients often have very different tolerance levels when wearing an appliance that feels artificial or foreign to them. If you are a person who puts up with wearing dentures because you feel that you have no other choice, realize that dental technology has advanced. Today’s technology has advanced to the point of offering better solutions that will give you a natural feel and comfort.

Cosmetic Benefits

Aside from improved confidence and the fact that you can chew better with implant-supported dentures, which improves digestion, you also look better. Multiple dental implants preserve bone and allow you to age gracefully without dealing with dramatic changes to the lower third of your face when you no longer have natural teeth.

Implant-Retained vs. Implant-Supported Dentures: One Step at a Time

Whether you ultimately choose implant-supported dentures, implant-retained dentures, or one of our other fine denture offerings, European Denture Center wants you to know that the decision you make today doesn’t necessarily exclude you from receiving the treatment that you desire in the future. It is possible to place additional implants over time in preparation for a higher-quality restoration in the future. Our denturists are happy to advise and help you balance your needs, wants, and desires. The beginning of a better dental future is a click or call away!