Most of the patients know about dental implants. However, you may not know that there is a choice of removable versus permanent teeth on implants. Removable means that you can take the teeth out of your mouth to clean, brush, and floss. Permanent means that they cannot be removed except by your dentist and that you brush, floss, and clean them like your natural teeth.
Permanent teeth on your implants are designed digitally and are created by using zirconia or porcelain. These substances are the hardest materials in the dentistry world that resemble a tooth. This doesn’t just look like a natural tooth, but also feels and functions like a natural tooth. This is the best possible option when it comes to replacing damaged or missing teeth.
The removable option, on the other hand, is especially designed to snap on and off your dental implants. These are preferred to traditional dentures, as the latter have no implants to hold them, so often require adhesives to hold them in place. In this article, we’ll talk about the factors that determine the choice of treatment between removable dental implants and fixed or permanent dental implants…
- Number of missing teeth: Your dentist will only recommend a removable appliance if you are missing all of the teeth in your arch and had trouble cleaning your natural teeth. If you only have a couple of teeth missing, it does not make sense to place an implant and then have a removable set of teeth on top of it. In cases where only a couple of teeth are missing, you can have a removable denture that is supported by your natural teeth or a fixed implant-supported bridge.
- Soft Tissue and Bone Support: Permanent teeth need a much greater amount of bone and soft tissue, as the implants need to be placed more precisely in line with the teeth. If you are missing a significant amount of bone and soft tissue, this may need to be rebuilt before the implants are placed. Removable teeth, on the other hand, can have flanges, which resembles the gum tissue. It is much easier to replace gum tissue with acrylic, than with bone or soft tissue grafting. If a lot of soft tissue has been lost, removable teeth may be a better option. You should consult your dentist for an opinion regarding whether you need permanent or removable teeth on your dental implants.
- Ability to clean and maintain: Removable teeth are easier to clean and maintain than permanent teeth. Removable teeth are similar to denture teeth except that they “snap” on to clips that are attached to the implants. Permanent teeth, however, require regular brushing, flossing, and even the use of a waterpik to keep the teeth clean. Though implants do not decay, they require regular care and cleaning. If you think you can maintain and clean your permanently implanted teeth properly this is likely preferable to the removable option.
- Maintenance and Repair: Removable teeth are made of acrylic (plastic), are not as strong, and can break easily. However, because they are removable, they are easy to repair. Permanent teeth are typically made of gold, or a strong ceramic base, such as Zirconia or Emax, with another esthetic porcelain layered on top. Sometimes, this porcelain can chip and break. It is slightly more expensive to repair broken permanent teeth.
- Longevity of the teeth: The lifespan of removable and permanent teeth will vary from patient to patient, depending on their lifestyle, oral hygiene, grinding habits, and so on. Permanent teeth last typically for about 15 to 20 or more years. Removable teeth do not last that long, with a lifespan closer to 7 to 10 years.
- Patient preference: Many patients prefer either the removable or the permanent teeth option. If done right, most people cannot distinguish your permanent implanted teeth from your real teeth, without looking at an X-ray. However, patients who have had dentures often prefer the removable option. You and your dentist, can come up with the option that suits you best, whether it is the removable one or the permanent option.
- Cost: Although the implants are exactly for both options, the teeth and structures made on top of the implants are very different making the cost of the two different. The removable teeth are made of acrylic, while the permanent option is made of a combination of metal or ceramic and porcelain. Permanent implants are more expensive than removable implants, so you should consult with your dentist about the option that will suit you best, including its cost.
Though there are pros and cons to both types of implants, both removable and permanent teeth over implants provide you with replacement teeth to enhance and maintain your smile. At Harbour Pointe Oral Surgery, we work with our patients to create and insert both removable and permanent dental implants. Consult with us, and we will develop a treatment plan just for you. Here’s to that perfect dental implant…either removable or permanent!