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Seniors' guide to tooth loss: Dentures, implants and bridges

Posted on February 1, 2024 in Healthy You

Whether it was caused by injury or disease, tooth loss is a major oral health challenge that can affect several areas of your life. Seniors today are maintaining their natural teeth longer compared to older adults in the 1970s, but about 17% of seniors have no remaining natural teeth.1 Fortunately, you have multiple options when it comes to restoring your smile if you experience tooth loss.

Here, we review the pros and cons of the three most common tooth replacement options: dentures, bridges and implants.

Dentures: The traditional choice

Dentures are removable prosthetics that replace missing teeth. They come in full or partial options, depending on how many teeth you’ve lost.

Pros of dentures:

  • Cost: Dentures are usually the least costly tooth replacement option.
  • Non-invasive: No surgery is required for traditional dentures.
  • Easy to clean: Dentures can be removed for cleaning.

Cons of dentures:

  • Comfort issues: Dentures can move and rub, which may be uncomfortable.
  • Changes in taste and speech: Dentures can change the way you taste food and speak.
  • Maintenance: Dentures need to be remade over time as gums shrink to ensure a proper fit.

Bridges: Closing the gap

Bridges are fixed prosthetics (that is, they cannot be removed like dentures) that are anchored to healthy surrounding teeth to replace missing ones. They may be made of various materials, including porcelain, metal or a combination of substances.

Pros of bridges:

  • Real tooth look and feel: Bridges look much like natural teeth and are comfortable, too.
  • Improved chewing and speaking: Bridges restore the full function of your teeth and mouth, so you can talk and eat with confidence.
  • Durable: Bridges can last for many years with regular dental visits.

Cons of bridges:

  • More invasive than dentures: Bridges require drilling into the surrounding teeth.
  • Cost: Bridges are often more expensive than traditional dentures.
  • May affect surrounding teeth: Bridges can put stress on the healthy teeth surrounding the bridge, but regular dental visits will reduce the risk of complications.

Implants: The gold standard

Dental implants are artificial tooth roots surgically implanted into the jawbone. A crown (a tooth-shaped cap) is then attached to the implant, creating a long-lasting and natural-looking tooth replacement.

Pros of implants:

  • Superior comfort and appearance: Implants mirror the look and feel of natural teeth.
  • Preserves bone health: Implants work the jawbone, which keeps it healthy and prevents bone loss that often occurs with missing teeth.
  • Durable and long-lasting: Implants can last for decades.

Cons of implants:

  • Cost: Implants are the most expensive tooth replacement option.
  • Invasive: Implant placement involves surgery.
  • Long treatment time: The implant treatment process takes several months, which is significantly longer compared to dentures or bridges.

How to choose the best tooth replacement option for you

Here are some important considerations to help you select the best tooth replacement option for you:

  • Number of missing teeth: Dentures are best if you have several missing teeth, while bridges and implants are ideal for single or a few missing teeth.
  • Medical history: Implants require surgery, so people with certain health conditions may not be good candidates.
  • Budget: Dentures are the most affordable option, followed by bridges and then implants.

Ultimately, you and your dentist will discuss the best tooth replacement option for you. Your dentist will assess your individual situation and recommend the best course of treatment for your specific needs. A radiant smile is within reach no matter your age, and your dentist can help you regain your confidence and enjoy life to the fullest.


  1. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research 


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