Dentures vs Dental Implants – Costs & Benefits

Losing teeth can be quite distressing. Considerations such as replacement cost, convenience, your health and longevity may cause analysis paralysis, but it is important to replace them as soon as possible so you can eat and talk normally and to restore aesthetics and self-confidence. Your restoration options include both dentures and dental implants, but which one is the best choice for your situation? The following guide is a comparison of the two and will help make your decision a little easier.

In This Guide

What are Removable Complete & Partial Dentures?

Removable Complete DentureDentures are removable appliances that replace missing teeth as well as some of the gum tissue. Complete or full dentures replace all the teeth in the upper or lower jaw, or in both jaws, while partial dentures are used to fill in gaps when some of the natural teeth still remain.

Complete dentures rest directly on the gums, whereas partial dentures are supported by clasps around existing teeth or with precision attachments that are fitted onto crowns. Dentures have a pink gum colored acrylic base that supports the denture teeth. Some dentures will include a lightweight metal framework for extra strength and support.
Partial Denture

What Are Dental Implants?

A dental implant is a titanium post that is inserted into the jawbone, replicating the root of a natural tooth. The implant post osseointegrates or bonds strongly with the jawbone, creating an anchor which is used to hold a replacement tooth. They can be used to replace single or multiple teeth, supporting crowns, bridges and even dentures.

What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Dentures Compared to Implants?

Benefits of choosing dentures include:

  1. Replacement teeth will look quite natural as modern denture teeth come in many different shapes, sizes and shades. The pink acrylic used to replicate your gum tissue can be closely matched to your natural gum color.
  2. Dentures are the more affordable option, particularly if you need to replace multiple teeth.
  3. The process for making dentures is non-invasive and unlike implants doesn’t require any surgery.
  4. Dentures are easy to adjust and modifications can be made to accommodate further tooth loss.
  5. Correctly made dentures will support the cheeks and lips, restoring height between the upper and lower jaws so the face no longer looks as if it has collapsed inwards.

Drawbacks of selecting dentures include:

  1. They don’t look quite as natural as implants since they display acrylic instead of actual gum tissue.
  2. They need to be removed and cleaned regularly, and must be left out of the mouth overnight to give the gums a chance to recover.
  3. Dentures can sometimes slip around, particularly if they have been worn for a few years as the jawbone changes shape, becoming flatter and less able to provide retention. Messy and expensive denture adhesives only provide a temporary solution.
  4. Some people find it difficult to get used to speaking and eating with dentures and may lack the muscle control required to hold them in place.
  5. There are restrictions on the types of foods that can be eaten. These restrictions may make it more difficult to have a balanced diet that provides all the nutrients required for good overall health.
  6. Dentures tend to trap food which can increase the risk of gum disease and decay of remaining teeth.
  7. Dentures can be quite fragile and are likely to break if dropped.
  8. Some people have a psychological aversion to wearing dentures and would prefer not to have removable teeth.
  9. They usually need to be replaced every three to six years (versus 15-20+ years for implants), although those with a metal framework and which are supported by natural teeth may last a little longer.
  10. Partial dentures can weaken the natural teeth supporting them, and it may be necessary for these teeth to be re-shaped or adapted slightly to accommodate the dentures clasps.

Other Factors to Consider

  • Insurance coverage. Dentures are generally covered by most dental insurance plans, and your insurance may pay between 15% and 50%. Dental implants are often classified as a cosmetic procedure, so the costs aren’t typically covered. It is worth checking with your provider as it is possible your insurance might cover a portion of the implant crown, bridge or denture.
  • Durability. Implants that are properly cared for can last for many years, or even for life, so costs can be lower in the longer term. In comparison, dentures will need replacing relatively frequently.
  • Long-term oral health. Implants help to preserve bone and prevent gum tissue from shrinking by stimulating them with the forces produced by chewing, which reduces your risk of losing more teeth. Dentures do not have this effect, and an ill-fitting restoration can even accelerate bone loss if it places too much pressure on the gums and underlying bone.
  • Oral hygiene. Dentures need to be cleaned meticulously every day. In comparison, implants can be maintained by simply brushing and flossing.
  • Improved appearance. Implants look very natural and function in a way that is similar to your own teeth. Dentures can feel very large and bulky in comparison.
  • Comfort. Dentures often slip around or may click during eating and speaking whereas implants cannot move and as they are held rigidly in place by the jawbone.
  • Food may taste better with implants. It will be easier to chew properly and you should be able to eat a greater variety of food. If they are used to replace upper dentures, you’ll notice food is tastier as your upper palate (which contains thousands of taste buds) will be uncovered.
  • Protecting your natural teeth. Implants help prevent neighboring natural teeth from moving out of position, and they don’t require these teeth to be modified in any way. Partial dentures can require neighboring teeth to be modified or ground down.

Cost Comparison

Dentures

The cost of dentures can vary according to where you live and the quality of dentures chosen. While it is possible to purchase cheap dentures, you’ll often find you get what you pay for. High quality restorations use materials and techniques that replicate the appearance of natural gum tissue and teeth. These materials tend to be stronger and longer-lasting and may even include a warranty.

Full Set of Dentures
Basic$600 to $1000
Mid-Range$1000 to $2000
Premium$4000 to $8000
Partial$700 to $1800
Implant Supported$30000 to $50000

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The cost of a basic denture for one arch of teeth is typically between $300 and $500, or an average of $1,000 for a complete set of full upper and lower teeth. They usually come with a limited warranty, come in a pre-set size and don’t last as long as the higher quality options.

For mid-range quality, replacing one arch costs between $500 and $1,500, while a full set would be $1,000 to $3,000. These usually come with a 1-2 year warranty and have a somewhat personalized fit.

Top quality dentures using the best available materials cost $2,000 to $4,000 per plate or $4,000 to $8,000 or more for a full set. This includes several follow up visits to ensure a completely personalized, comfortable custom fit and a warranty for 5 to 10 years.

Partial Dentures
Removable partial dentures start at $300 to $500, but average between $700 and $1,800. If you have a metal framework then you could end up paying $2,000 – $4,000 or more.

Dental Implants

They tend to be more expensive than dentures, but the costs depend on your dentist’s experience and popularity, your location, your dental health, the type of implant used, what diagnostic tests are required (x-rays, CT scan, etc.) and whether or not additional procedures such as a bone graft or sinus lift are required.

Other factors to take into consideration include the number of teeth being replaced and the number of implants required as multiple missing teeth can be replaced with a bridge or denture supported by only 2-4 implants.

Single Tooth Implant
It typically costs $1,000 to $3,000 to have a single tooth implant placed by a dentist. The implant crown will be extra and can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000 depending on the materials used. The average cost of a single tooth implant is approximately $4,250 but your dentist will be able to give you a more accurate estimate after your initial examination.

Single Tooth Implant Cost
Implant Only$1000 to $3000
Abutment & Crown$500 to $3000
Average Total Cost$4000

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Multiple Implants
The cost of multiple implants can be anywhere from $3,500 to $30,000 or even more. Two can support a three or four tooth dental bridge, and the average cost of this treatment is approximately $8,500.

Multi Implant Cost
3-4 Tooth Bridge (Two Implants)$5000 to $15000 (avg. $8500)
2-6 Implants With Dental Bridge$3600 to $29000+
Top & Bottom Supported Dentures$25000 to $95000+ (avg. $34000)

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Implant Supported Dentures
If you wish to replace your upper and lower denture with implant supported dentures or with a fixed bridge, then you can expect to pay anywhere from $25,000 right up to $95,000, with costs averaging approximately $34,000. This is a considerable sum of money, but it is important to remember how many teeth will be replaced during this procedure and that it will require multiple implants.

Combination of Both: All-on-4

All on 4 Implants DiagramThe All-on-4 technique is used to replace an upper or lower regular denture with a fixed denture that is supported using four implants. This technique is based on the way the implants are angled, as the two at the front of the mouth are placed at a 90° angle, while the two on either side are placed tilted backwards at a 45° angle in order to maximize the use of available bone to hold the denture securely in position. This is a specialized technique that requires additional training and planning.

Making a Decision: Dental Implants or Dentures?

Dental implants are largely regarded as the gold standard for replacing missing teeth due to the way they replicate natural tooth roots which helps preserve the jawbone and gum tissue in addition to providing the best aesthetics. In the same vein, dentures can be tricky to wear, restrict your food choices and need to be replaced more frequently.

However, there are many situations where dentures are the best option. Implants aren’t suitable for everybody. Dentures could be the answer if you are opposed to having oral surgery, grind or clench your teeth, can’t quit smoking or have a medical condition that significantly increases the risk of implant failure such as diabetes or any disease that compromises your immune system. They are also a great short-term option (several years) if you are currently unable to afford implants.

Dentures may seem to be cheaper initially, but a recent study found that implants are a cost-effective option for replacing single teeth. For replacing multiple teeth, implants have higher initial costs but better improvements in oral health-related quality of life compared to other treatment options.

What to Read Next

Over to You

What did you decide was the best option for you? Let us know in the comments why you’re leaning towards implants or dentures.

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23 thoughts on “Dentures vs Dental Implants – Costs & Benefits

  1. I finally decided to get my much-needed dentures last year. I’m 72, so the decision was an obvious one since realistically, I won’t be needing artificial teeth for more than 10 years or so.

    I really wanted to experience implants (and would have if they weren’t so expensive), but it wouldn’t make sense to spend my kids’ inheritance on my teeth when I’m already in my twilight years…

    • While I think you are entitled to spend everything you have earned in your life, I think it is great that you opted into a cheaper route to give your kids a leg up. That’s the very definition of a great father, and my hat is off to you.

  2. I am 59 years old and had partial-permanent-porcelain dentures on 4front teeth for the last 25 years. I was diagnosed as a diabetic at age 40. Dental health has been on a downhill since then and kept losing teeth. I’m currently in the process of taking 6 implants to support a bridge in my front upper teeth and both sides on the lower portion. Estimated total cost $24,000. I’ve opted for Flexible spending account to help pay for some of these expenses.

  3. I’m glad I saw this site. I have to make a choice between getting 2 implants or to get a partial denture. One of the teeth is in the upper/front tooth. I am thinking that due to my bone loss, etc. I may bite the bullet and just go w/ the best partial I can buy. I am NOT willing to go thru grafting, a sinus lift, implant surgery and then have the risk of it not taking. With my luck it would not. I am also a chicken w/ dental procedures and pain. Anyone here wish that they did the partial instead of getting implants? From what I understand, a partial is now pretty lightweight and is like a retainer with a couple of fake teeth on it. This sounds so less complicated to me….but the dental world wants to “sell” everyone on implants calling partials antiquated.

    • Hi Desert flower, I am in the same place you were in last year. May I ask what you ended up doing and how it’s gone for you? Please let me know as I am in the process now. I turned down the implants for the same reason you have.
      Thanks , Kitty

  4. I was having 4 extractions and 6 implants on the bottom. My surgeon pulled the wrong tooth?
    What kind of recourse do I have?

    • My surgeon pulled the wrong tooth last year so now I have two missing teeth and tenderness in some other teeth so I am very anxious to know which route to go. If I get the implant and I continue to have tenderness in other teeth and have to in the end get dentures then the implant was a waste of money I really don’t have. I am really as troubled as yourself on what to do!

      • Mike, don’t bother spending the money because they’ll just tell you that they can’t do anything because of your problem with that tender gum (which you should have had another surgeon take a look at that problem, that’s not normal! It should’ve healed within a few weeks at the most!) And, by any chance, did anyone go see or speak to an attorney about these surgeon’s pulling out the wrong teeth? Just saying.

  5. Dear Sirs,
    I need some advice.
    My dentist whom I have been with for years, gave me a price to install both
    upper and lower full implant denture plates.
    There are only 7 teeth left on top including 2 root teeth (broken at gum line.)
    I an presently wearing a false loose denture on the bottom.
    Any way, he is charging me a total of $12,680.10.
    I believe he is planning to install only 2 implants on top and 2 implants on bottom.
    Is this a good price?
    Any advice you can give me?
    Or questions I should ask my dentist?
    Thanks so much.
    Joseph Pontillo

    • Hi Joseph,

      That is a good price for top and bottom full implant-supported dentures, but I would ask your dentist how well he thinks 2 implants can support an entire denture. A denture is usually supported by at least 4 implants per plate. This is known as the “All-on-4” procedure which you can learn more about here:

      http://www.dentalimplantcostguide.com/all-on-4/

    • Joseph, just do some more research online, until you feel comfortable with the knowledge you obtain. From what I have read, it could depend on all kinds of situations, from where you live to your health. So do yourself a favor, and research!

  6. I have new dentures did not get the 4 implants at the time can I use my dentures and get the 4 titanium post using existing lower dentures have only worn them 5 times because they move to much when I try to eat got them at affordable dentures they are the high priced ones.

    • That completely depends on the quality of your dentures, and if you can find a doctor who will use your existing set. But yes, it is physically possible to convert your existing set into something that can be implant supported.

  7. Joseph,

    Having a denture on the upper and lower arches supported by only 2 implants each can be done, but they will not be fixed in the mouth. By that, I mean they will still essentially be removable dentures. You would be getting what’s called an Overdenture, which does add support to a typical set of dentures, but it isn’t fixed in the mouth like an All-on-4 would be. Even for the Overdenture (which is a less expensive option than the All-on-4) anything under 20k for an upper and lower set combined is very cheap, almost to the point of the office not being able to cover their own expenses. I would be very cautious before getting this done, especially if you dentist is a general dentist, and not a specialist that does this type of work on a normal basis. Implant placement can (and will) have a high fail rate if the doctor placing the implants is not experienced in what he/she is doing. Before spending that kind of money, I’d make sure I found someone who I was confident knows what they are doing.

    Hope that helps.

  8. Presently I have a full lower denture and 8 natural teeth in the upper at the front of my mouth, nothing else
    I’m 81 on a small gov’t pension so I don’t have a lot of money. What is the best I could afford. Could I turn the lower full denture into a permanent denture and get a partial for the top as I’ve heard the suction will hold them in place?

  9. I am thinking about doing a complete set of upper and lower implants. I was wondering if anyone had been able to deduct some or all or the cost of this kind of procedure in their taxes?

  10. I’m diabetic at age 67 & I was just reading info on dentures or implants (need top & bottom) and their cost. I’m retired & on a govt. fixed income. I would like to get implants but sort of afraid of surgery being a diabetic. I’ve heard 2 stories of persons being diabetic died in dentist chair. That really stuck in my mine. It’s a little scary.
    Hopefully, I can come to a good decision. I miss my smile (which I do often- I’m a happy person).

  11. I started a “upper” implant procedure last April, 2015. The periodontist
    pulled all of the upper teeth and drilled the implants all in one session. I was concerned with and still am, the bone loss due to periodontal disease. Other than X Rays, a CT Scan was not performed, periodontist used 6 implants. After about 9 months of healing at which time he would check them by tapping them I lost an implant and that implant was replaced using a longer “implant” and I was sent out for more healing. I informed his office that I felt a different implant located in the front was not healing correctly as it would feel sore and pull when I smiled, and was concerned it was near a sinus maybe. He explained that it was not near the sinuses and sent me home for additional healing (3 months from replacement implant). When I returned to start next process the implant I had informed him I was concerned with came out…He asked if I wanted to proceed or replace and informed me that he felt confident that the remaining 5 implants would suffice. I, of course, opted to proceed as it had been over 12 months from the start. The next step was for the Lab to prepare the dentures, and after 3 fittings and alterations to the wax “try ins” (the teeth were not symmetrical and still are not or nor are they what I believe I signed off on) because in the last and final fitting the next appointment for the final teeth was to occur in the next week and it took a month and the appointments were cancelled by the lab on the date of the appointment. I truly believe that the “bar” would not work on the final alterations and they have not been forthcoming. The end result is that the bite is off terribly, the teeth are not symmetrical and the cost was $18,500 for the periodontist and $12,500 for the dentures. Again, this is upper teeth only…no comprehensive work performed. Have I been overcharged? I just want a clear answer from someone. Please.

  12. Lill,
    I just learned from an oral surgeon that my uncontrolled diabetes has severely compromised the bone that supports my teeth. I have a sinus infection and 1 or more abscesses on the left side. The bone damage cannot solidly support any of the upper left teeth, leaving them all loose in the aftermath of these abscesses. He tells me I will lose all of these teeth but he cannot do the extractions until my diabetes is under control. He has concerns that the infection may also be contributing to the bone damage and the diabetes may have allowed the infection to run at full speed. The ENT won’t address the sinus infection until the dental work is done. The sinus infection was diagnosed in the ER in early September, 5 weeks ago. The oral surgeon has put me on hold until the diabetes doctor can “get it under control” (whatever that means.) Currently antibiotics is the only proactive treatment for me.

    My point is you may do well to consult your diabetes doctor, make absolutely certain your dentist(s) and any others that may be involved in your care ALL know and understand and have had a chance to weigh in on this! I went to the ER, where they identified the sinus infection but gave me antibiotics & sent me to my PCP. When the abscesses erupted in a few days, I went to my general dentist, who immediately sent me to an oral surgeon. He removed the macerated gums for a biopsy, then we waited 2 wks for the report, during which time that dentist moved his offices to a neighboring community when his building was unexpectedly sold. (I do not blame him. It was sudden but too far for me to drive.) I had gone to my PCP to get the CT scan he insisted we needed, but if he ordered it, I’d have to pay for it. Another wait. I visited my general dentist again & she sent me to another surgeon that I saw 4 days ago. I’d also made an appt. with an ENT, but that was a 3 wk wait to get in. In the meantime, I am still dealing with a sinus infection that leaves my left cheek swollen & some pain. The site of the biopsy has healed but I have 2 actively draining abscesses adjacent to the site and all the teeth are loose. And I still have some blood sugar issues, some of which come from the limited choices of the foods I can eat. For 4 weeks I was limited to soft & liquid foods, such as mashed potatoes, soups, sugar-free jello and soft veggies and fruit. I’ve lost almost 10 lbs now, and am still waiting for someone to reach the top of this treatment priorities list. I HOPE it is the diabetes doctor I am supposed to see in 3 more days!

    So, touch ALL bases, let anyone and everyone who might have some professional insights from their own practices and get ALL your ducks in a row. And do not underestimate the profound effect diabetes can have, now and in future.

  13. I am getting an upper and lower set of dentures the cost was $2700 I had to charge them I don’t have that kind of money. I would like to try implants instead but after seeing how the cost forget that.

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