If you have teeth present you also may have several options:
If you have not yet lost your teeth, but many of your teeth are broken down, it is often possible to utilize the broken teeth as though they were dental implants. Dentures could then be made that fit over these teeth. These are called overdentures. The advantage of saving these teeth is that they can help prevent the jaw bone from dissolving away while providing a more solid foundation for the dentures. Small ball shaped attachments can be placed in these teeth and the denture can be snapped into place. This option is usually close to 1/2 the cost of dental implants. Fluoride must be used in the overdenture to keep the teeth from decaying. Click here if you would like to see a before and after picture.
The other option is to use dentures. There is a substantial difference in dentures that are available. Generally, if you have had difficulty with dentures in the past your best chances are with a Prosthodontist. His understanding of the forces that affect a denture as well as the advanced training give you the best prospects. Many prosthodontists now make upper dentures with a metal palate in the denture. This provides substantial strength and much more room for the tongue. It is also much more comfortable. If you later decide to have implants placed, the metal support makes the denture much stronger and less likely to break.
If there are teeth on both sides of the missing teeth, and if they are strong enough, a fixed bridge can be designed that attaches to the teeth and is not removable. It requires the teeth on either side to be crowned and this requires cutting the enamel off of the teeth and then replacing it with porcelain and/or metal teeth. The cost is sometimes less than implants. The cost for a bridge is usually between $700-1800 /tooth. For example, if you lost one tooth, the bridge would involve that tooth plus the teeth on either side of the space for a total of 3 teeth. The bridge would cost between $2100-5100.
If there are not enough remaining teeth to support a fixed bridge, a removable partial denture can be made to replace the missing teeth. There are a wide number of types of partial dentures. The price can range from $300-2500 for a plastic partial. This is usually considered a temporary partial. A partial with a metal substructure which is designed to gain support and stability from the teeth will range between $800-3500. The prices usually vary depending on the skill and training of the dentist.