When patients are trying to choose between a tooth bridge or a dental implant, they may not be sure which is the better option. Having teeth that have been extracted or just lost can be the source of many dental issues. A quality replacement is essential for keeping a healthy and beautiful smile. Although both dental bridges and implants share the common goal of replacing missing teeth, they achieve this in different ways. So, which option is right for you? Let’s find out!
What are dental implants?
Dental implants give patients a better solution to their missing teeth and are typically seen as the best way to replace them. Implants are inserted into the jawbone, and they look, feel, and act just like natural teeth would. In fact, some patients forget that they even have implants!
What is the dental implant procedure like?
A tooth implant is an artificial tooth root that acts as a stable support for a single crown. Tooth implants can replace a single tooth, multiple teeth (with an implant-retained bridge), or even all of the teeth in the lower or upper jaw with an implant-retained denture.
A tooth implant is placed in the mouth and then covered with a protective screw. It’s left to bond with the surrounding bone tissue in a process known as osseointegration. Depending on the patient, this could take up to 6 months or more. After the osseointegration process is complete, the dentist takes an impression of the mouth from which he makes the dental crown.
However, before the permanent one is placed, a temporary crown will be fitted over the implant for protection. This allows the gums to grow and take their natural shape. The dentist completes the restoration process by replacing the temporary crown with a permanent one that looks just like a real tooth.
What are the pros of dental implants?
- Dental implants aren’t just good for your smile–they also mean you can eat whatever you want and that they’re more stable than a dental bridge.
- Dental implants are fitted into the jawbone and act as tooth root replacements. This stops any further bone loss or shrinkage in the jaw that often happens when a tooth is missing. Something that dental implants can do that other forms of tooth replacement cannot.
- Dental implants are a great way to support your adjacent teeth without having to grind down healthy teeth.
What are the cons of dental implants?
The main downside of implants is that they require surgery, and not everyone is a good candidate for the dental implant procedure. Implants are not a quick fix and can take up to 9 months from the first consultation.
How long does a dental implant last?
Although an implant can last for several decades with proper oral care, the dental crown may eventually need to be replaced.
What are dental bridges?
Dental bridges are false teeth that fill in the gaps left by one or more of your natural teeth.
A bridge is made up of one or more crowns (depending on how many teeth are absent) and sits on your gums to fill the empty space. It is affixed by two dental crowns that are placed on the teeth at either side of the gap.
What is the dental bridge procedure like?
A dental bridge procedure can be done in just two dental visits, a few weeks apart. On the other hand, a dental implant procedure can take up to six months or more.
At your first appointment to get a dental bridge, the dentist will need to prepare the teeth on either side of the gap. They’ll do this by removing some of the tooth enamel and filing down the teeth to make space for the crowns that need to be placed over them. Unfortunately, this compromises healthy teeth and might leave them prone to gum disease and tooth decay.
Not to mention, a bridge does not replace the tooth root like an implant would, so natural bone loss that happens when there’s a missing tooth will still happen, causing the jawline to change shape gradually.
An impression of the teeth is taken prior to building the bridge so that the dentist can get an accurate size and shape. The dentist will fit a temporary bridge in the mouth in order to safeguard the gums and teeth until the permanent appliance is ready.
They will fit the permanent bridge during the second visit, check the bite, and make any necessary adjustments.
What are the pros of a dental bridge?
- The porcelain crowns used for the appliance are custom-made to match the surrounding teeth, so they blend in seamlessly with your smile.
- For patients looking to restore their smile quickly, bridges can be a good option, as they can take as little as 3 weeks from the initial consultation.
- Compared to tooth implants, getting a dental bridge is less invasive because you won’t need drills or a bone graft.
- A dental bridge not only restores your smile but also improves how you chew and bite.
What are the cons of a dental bridge?
The teeth surrounding the space where a dental bridge will be placed must be filed down and reshaped to make room for the supporting crowns.
How many years does a dental bridge usually last?
Dental bridges usually last five to seven years, but with regular dental cleanings and excellent oral hygiene, they may last more than a decade.
Tooth bridge vs implant – candidacy
Dental implants and dental bridges each have distinct requirements that must be fulfilled before a person can become a candidate.
The initial consultation will help determine your eligibility for each. A patient needs to have completed jaw growth in order to have dental implants, and those with diabetes, cancer, or periodontal disease may need extra treatments for eligibility.
If you smoke, you will need to abstain from smoking during the implant procedure.
The primary way to see if you qualify for a dental bridge is by checking the health and stability of your surrounding teeth.
The cost of a tooth bridge vs an implant
Dentists will frequently suggest dental implants to patients who are missing teeth because they are a long-term solution that is also more likely to be cost-effective in the end, even though they have a higher up-front cost when compared to bridges.
Is it possible to get a dental implant after having a bridge?
It is possible to replace a bridge with implants, although if bone loss has occurred, grafting may be necessary before the implants are placed.
Let us help you make a choice between dental implants and dental bridges
Both dental bridges and dental implants offer great solutions for missing teeth. The best decision will depend on the individual patient’s needs, goals, and budget. To determine which is the right option for you, it’s best to speak with our dentist, who can evaluate your situation first-hand. At DDSS/DDII, we’ve helped thousands of patients change their lives with dental restorations.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
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