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Dental Implants VS Real Teeth: What’s The Difference?

A smiling dental professional holding a model showing the differences between dental implants and natural teeth.

The thought of losing a tooth can be scary, but modern dentistry offers innovative solutions such as implant dentures. These lifelike replacements rival natural teeth in both function and appearance. But what are the real differences? Let’s cut through the confusion and explore the facts about dental implants vs real teeth to help you make the best choice for your smile.

How Do Dental Implants Differ From Natural Teeth?

Female dentist showing a dental model to an elderly male patient, explaining dental implants.

Understanding the differences between dental implants and real teeth is essential for making informed decisions about your long-term dental health. Here are some key distinctions:

  1. Biological Composition: Natural teeth are living tissues, whereas implants are artificial structures.
  2. Attachment: Natural teeth are anchored by roots and surrounded by periodontal ligaments, providing some movement and flexibility. Implants, however, are directly fused to the bone, offering a rigid and stable anchor.
  3. Sensitivity: Natural teeth have nerves that can sense temperature and pain, while implants lack these sensory capabilities.
  4. Maintenance: Both require good oral hygiene, but natural teeth are more susceptible to decay and disease, while implants need care to prevent peri-implantitis (inflammation around the implant).

How Do Teeth And Implants Differ In Structure?

Hands holding a model showing the structure of dental implants compared to natural teeth.

Both natural teeth and dental implants have a three-layer structure. This is where some of their similarities end, however. 

Natural teeth consist of three layers: enamel, dentin, and pulp:

  1. Enamel: The hard outer layer that protects the inner layers from decay and damage.
  2. Dentin: The middle layer that supports the enamel and carries sensory signals from the tooth to the brain.
  3. Pulp: The innermost layer that contains nerves and blood vessels, providing nourishment and sensation to the tooth.

On the other hand, dental implants are artificial structures designed to mimic natural teeth. They comprise three main components:

  1. Implant Fixture: A titanium post surgically placed into the jawbone, acting as the artificial tooth’s root.
  2. Abutment: A connector is placed on top of the implant fixture, linking the fixture to the crown.
  3. Crown: The visible part of the implant, usually made of ceramic or porcelain, is designed to look and function like a natural tooth.

While the structure is similar, the materials and composition differ, leading to variations in durability and susceptibility to decay between natural teeth and dental implants.

How Do Natural Tooth Crowns Differ From Dental Implant Crowns?

Close-up of a dental implant showing the titanium post and ceramic crown.

One of the most noticeable differences between dental implants and real teeth lies in the crown.

Natural Tooth Crowns

The crown of a natural tooth is made of enamel, which is known for being the hardest substance in the human body. This natural crown is strong, resilient, and designed to withstand the daily wear and tear of chewing.

Dental Implant Crowns

Dental implant crowns, on the other hand, are typically made from materials like porcelain or ceramic. These materials are chosen for their durability and their ability to closely resemble the appearance of natural teeth. While they are robust, they might not have the exact same resilience as natural enamel, but are still highly durable and effective for chewing.

In A Nutshell: Dental Implants vs Real Teeth

FeatureNatural TeethDental Implants
CompositionLiving tissueArtificial structure
AttachmentRooted in bone, some flexibilityFused to the bone, rigid
SensitivityCan sense temperature and painNo sensory capabilities
MaintenanceProne to decay and diseaseRequires care to prevent peri-implantitis
LifespanLifetime, impacted by oral hygiene20+ years with proper care
Strength (bite force)Extremely strong, but can weaken with decay/damageStrong, comparable to natural teeth

Are Dental Implants Always Successful?

A dentist with blue gloves shows a dental model with implants to a patient.

Dental implants boast exceptionally high success rates, often cited to be between 95% and 98%.

However, this success can depend on several factors, including the patient’s oral health, the skill of the dental surgeon, and post-surgical care.

For example, patients who maintain good oral hygiene and follow their denturist’s care instructions are more likely to experience successful implants.

Additionally, factors such as bone density and overall health can influence the success rate of implants. It’s essential to have a thorough consultation with a dental professional to understand the individual risks and benefits.

How Long Do Dental Implants Normally Last?

The patient is holding a dental model as the dentist explains the difference between natural teeth and implants.

Dental implants are designed to be a long-lasting solution for missing teeth. With proper care and maintenance, they can last for decades or even a lifetime. 

This longevity makes them a popular choice for individuals seeking a permanent tooth replacement option.

Durability largely depends on the following:

  1. Oral Hygiene: Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups are crucial.
  2. Diet: Avoid excessively hard foods that could damage the crown.
  3. Lifestyle: Non-smokers tend to have longer-lasting implants as smoking can adversely affect oral health.
  4. TMD: Issues with the health of the jaw, such as Temporomandibular Disorder or clenching or grinding at night, can put a huge amount of stress on implants and cause them to fail.

Dental implants’ exceptional longevity sets them apart from other tooth replacement options, making them a worthwhile investment in your oral health.

Are Implants Stronger Than Real Teeth?

Close-up of a dental model with implants and natural teeth demonstrating their placement in the jaw.

One of the most significant advantages of dental implants is their ability to provide a strong bite force, similar to natural teeth.

This is primarily due to the osseointegration process, where the titanium implant fuses with the jawbone, creating a stable and sturdy foundation.

This process allows implants to withstand the same pressures and forces as natural teeth, making them an excellent option for those needing to restore their chewing ability. 

Although not foolproof, dental implants’ high success rate makes them a reliable option for tooth replacement when performed by experienced professionals. This is especially crucial for procedures like complete dentures, where the success of the implants is essential for the stability of the denture.

Why Do Dental Implants Fail?

Three dental implants in various stages of assembly, showcasing the crown, abutment, and titanium post.

While dental implants are generally successful, failures can occur. Understanding the potential 

reasons for failure can help make an informed decision about dental implants.

  1. Infection: Peri-implantitis, an infection around the implant, can lead to failure if not addressed promptly.
  2. Poor Osseointegration: If the implant does not properly fuse with the bone, it can become loose and fail.
  3. Mechanical Issues: Breakage of the implant or its components due to excessive force or improper placement.
  4. Health Conditions: Conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes or habits like smoking can increase the risk of implant failure.

Proper oral hygiene, managing underlying medical conditions, and avoiding smoking are crucial for ensuring the long-term success of dental implants.

Make The Right Choice For Your Smile

Female patient smiling during a dental consultation as the dentist shows a dental implant model.

Dental implants offer a reliable and durable solution for missing teeth, often rivaling the strength of natural teeth. 

When considering the right option for you, it’s crucial to consult with a dental professional to assess your individual needs and circumstances.

Remember, the choice between natural teeth and implants is personal, and a knowledgeable denturist can guide you toward the most suitable path for a healthy and confident smile.

Your Journey To A Confident Smile Starts Here

With over 61 years of experience, Schaefer Denture Clinic is your trusted partner in Edmonton for all your denture and implant needs. We offer premium dentures at competitive prices, utilizing state-of-the-art technology and personalized care. 

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and explore the best tooth replacement options for you, including weighing the benefits of dental implants. We’re here to help you regain your confident smile!