Tooth replacement has advanced quite a bit in the past few decades. Today we have multiple reliable treatment options for replacing missing teeth. While dental implants tend to be the best way to replace a tooth for most people, this can vary from one individual to another and should always be discussed with your dentist.
In the past, a bridge was your only choice, and it involves more than just the missing tooth. The teeth next to your missing tooth would need to be "prepped" by removing most of the outside tooth structure in order to create the bridge. The prepped teeth are then connected with a fake tooth in-between. With dental implants, we can replace just the individual tooth for a result that is often stronger than a bridge. Nonetheless, a dental bridge may be your best option if the teeth next to your missing tooth have large fillings and might need crowns (caps) in the future. A bridge may also be a better option for you if the tooth has been missing for a long time; the gums and bone will likely be very thin in that area making an implant impossible without extensive grafting. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures should be discussed on an individual basis with your dentist.
Your ability to keep your mouth healthy and clean will be easier with an implant. Dental bridges are cemented permanently in the mouth, and involve at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. This means that instead of being able to floss between these teeth you will need to be taught to floss underneath the teeth with special oral hygiene tools. In contrast, implants can replace teeth individually without affecting nearby teeth, making good home care easier to maintain. You will be able to brush and floss around an implant just like your natural tooth.
Dental implants tend to be more durable than bridges.. The implant itself is made of titanium, which fuses with your jawbone through a process called osseointegration. This is the same material usually used for joint replacements. Because it is made of such a strong metal, they are very resistant to decay and gum problems. The average life of a dental bridge, on the other hand, is approximately 10 years. A portion of your natural tooth remains beneath the bridge and future decay could cause it to fail over time.
Typically both implants and bridges can lead to very esthetic results. Sometimes, an implant can be placed immediately after a tooth is removed, which preserves the natural level of bone and improves the final appearance of the dental work. There will be some cases more difficult than others such as if your lip comes high above your teeth when you smile, when one option may be more beneficial than the other.
The cost of the dental bridge is less initially, but it may need to be remade at some point in the future due to problems like decay of the teeth. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may seem a bit more expensive, but over time can be more cost-effective. Many dental insurance providers have started contributing a portion to both procedures. In addition, implant treatment can take more time from start to finish, allowing patients to budget the cost in increments. At Springbrook Family Dentistry we will only collect money for the steps done at each time.
So, dental bridge vs. implant? This decision should be made after a consultation with your dentist. He or she knows your mouth best and will be able to help you determine what will be your most ideal treatment option. Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants have become more and more common over the years, and in most cases are the preferable treatment both in time and expense. If you would like to find out more about what the best option to replace your missing tooth is please give us a call and we will be happy to provide you with a consultation.