Implants vs dentures

Implants vs Dentures

DentalDental ImplantsDentures

Mention the word denture and you might have a flashback to your grandad’s favourite party trick – popping out his row of false teeth to make an audience of kids laugh. Dental prosthetics have come a long way since then, and today there are numerous options to suit individual needs and requirements.Dr Dharsh Sritharan


Dr Dharsh Sritharan, Dentist at St John Dental says the first and most important step in considering dentures or implants is to examine whether existing teeth can be retained.

“There’s no better substitute for someone’s natural tooth than their own tooth, so all avenues should be explored in retaining natural teeth before the decision is made to extract.”

When natural teeth can’t be retained: what are the options?

Complete Denture

A complete denture may be required if all teeth need to be replaced. A row of replacement teeth is attached to a pink acrylic base resembling the gum. This is fitted over the gum and can be removed.


  • Cost-effective
  • Surgery is usually not required
  • Can stay in place in the mouth if well-designed and the remaining bone is adequate
  • Can last for a number of years


  • Can move around and be difficult to keep ‘in place’ in the mouth
  • Requires some adaptation and learning for eating
  • Will become loose over time due to shrinkage of underlying bone, which occurs when there are no teeth
  • Can affect taste
  • Will require replacement as the underlying tissues change over time
  • Need to be cleaned and maintained correctly or can cause damage to the underlying tissue.

Partial Denture

Partial dentures are also removable and can be used when one or more natural teeth remain in the jaw. Like a complete denture, a removable partial denture has replacement teeth attached to a ‘gum-coloured’ acrylic base. A metal or acrylic framework often holds the denture in place in the mouth.


  • Cost-effective
  • Surgery usually not required
  • Retain other natural teeth for as long as possible
  • Minimal preparation required for remaining teeth


  • Removable and can take some getting used to
  • Can feel bulkier in the mouth
  • Can have some mobility in the mouth
  • Requires some adaptation and learning for eating
  • Needs to be cleaned and maintained correctly or can cause damage to the underlying tissue
  • Will require replacement as the underlying tissues change over time


A fixed “bridge” replaces one or more teeth by placing crowns on the remaining natural teeth next to the missing teeth (called abutments), and attaching the new artificial teeth (pontics) to the crowns, filling the gap.


  • Fixed in the mouth
  • No requirement for additional framework
  • Surgery usually not required


  • Usually requires significant reduction of tooth structure in order to crown the adjacent abutments
  • Usually a longer term solution but may require replacement over time
  • Needs to be maintained correctly in order to avoid damage to the abutment teeth and surrounding tissue.

Dental Implants

Dental implants involve the surgical insertion of titanium fixtures into the jaw in place of missing teeth. These fixtures will then act as an anchor point for permanent replacement teeth, a bridge or even a denture.


  • Provides a more natural look and feel
  • “Fixed” in the mouth like natural teeth
  • No interference or preparation required of other teeth
  • Can last for many years


  • Requires surgery
  • Longer and more involved process
  • Higher cost
  • More maintenance required. Like natural teeth, implants can be lost if the surrounding tissue becomes inflamed and unhealthy due to poor maintenance
  • Can have poorer outcomes for patients who smoke or have periodontal disease

Implant and denture combination

A combination of implants and dentures may be used where a patient is experiencing difficulty with retention – that is, keeping the denture in the mouth. This is often experienced by those with complete dentures, and particularly lower dentures.


  • Can significantly improve quality of life, overall comfort and confidence for denture wearers
  • Can improve denture stability


  • Requires surgery
  • Requires very good maintenance
  • Higher cost

What’s right for me?

Following an initial assessment, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination to determine the best course of treatment based on the patient’s circumstances. Factors which may influence or determine whether dentures, implants, or a combination of both would be best suited for a patient include:

  • Patient’s age
  • Condition of existing teeth, gums and underlying bone
  • Number and position of teeth requiring replacement
  • Affordability
  • Risk associated with surgery
  • The patient’s overall health
  • Habits such as smoking
  • Patient preference and requirements
  • Cosmetic and functional requirements

If you’ve had concerns about missing or vulnerable teeth and would like to know more about your options, St John Dental can help with expertise on both replacement teeth and preventative dental.

You can book an appointment with Dr Dharsh Sritharan, quoted in this article, at our Cockburn St John Dental clinic.

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