Are you in search of dental solutions for your missing or decaying teeth? Perhaps you've been researching dental implants and dental bridges, but you're still not sure which option is best for you. There are many things to consider when choosing between dental implants and dental bridges.

 

A dental implant acts as a root for a replacement tooth and is inserted into the jawbone. Then, a single crown, a fixed bridge, a removable partial denture, or full denture can be attached on top of it. A dental bridge closes the gap between one or more missing teeth. Dental bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants. Whether you choose a dental implant or bridge, your choice will depend on your specific needs, your overall dental health, and budget.

 

Dental Implants

Dental implants involve a surgical procedure where the implant is inserted into the jawbone. The implant then fuses to the jawbone, anchoring it into position. Once the implant has been inserted into the jawbone, an abutment, a connecting piece, joins the artificial tooth or teeth (implant-supported prosthesis) to the implant. So, there are three components of an "implant tooth": the dental implant itself, the abutment, and the artificial tooth or teeth. 

 

There are many benefits to dental implant treatment. Dental implants:

  • Help prevent bone loss. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, dental implants prevent the jawbone from deteriorating. When you lose your teeth, your jawbone begins to deteriorate as it no longer has a purpose. This can cause you to appear older than your age as the jawbone shrinks and causes your face to sag.
  • Look and act like a natural tooth. Dental implants are placed beneath the gum line, which allows for a natural appearance. They allow your other teeth to move and shift as they fit securely when you chew and speak.
  • Can last a lifetime with proper care. Dental implants may be more expensive than other dental solutions, but their durability makes up for the cost. As Dr. Tyler likes to say: "Titanium doesn't decay."

 

Dental Bridges

Unlike dental implants, dental bridges don't replace a tooth root. Instead, bridges use one or more surrounding teeth for support. In order to provide support for the bridge, these teeth must be filed down and receive crowns. Dental implant treatment doesn't require this type of alteration to any natural teeth.

Bridge treatment may be more practical than implant treatment in many cases:

  • Candidacy is far less restrictive. With dental implant treatment, patients must have sufficient bone to anchor the implants into the jaw. If not, special procedures such as bone grafting need to be done. Bridge treatment doesn't require these possible complications.
  • Doesn't require surgery. Dental bridge treatment is a more simple and less invasive process. It doesn't involve the insertion of a titanium post into the jawbone.
  • The treatment process is faster. The surgical nature and the invasiveness of dental implant treatment make the process longer, typically 3 to 6 months. In some cases, a bridge can be finished in a single dental visit.

A bridge is more difficult to maintain than an implant, which can lead to higher rates of recurrent decay of the adjacent teeth. Flossing is much easier with a dental implant crown. When flossing a bridge, floss-threaders are often required, but difficult to use well. Therefore, a Waterpik is often recommended as well for bridge maintenance.

 

While dental implants prevent jawbone deterioration, a dental bridge doesn't offer this benefit. As an implant is embedded into the jawbone, using the new tooth to bite and chew helps stimulate that bone, preventing shrinkage. The false tooth in a dental bridge doesn't make contact with the jawbone. So bone loss may still occur with a dental bridge.

Whether you choose implants or bridges, it's important to go to a qualified prosthodontist for treatment. Want to learn more? Contact us or schedule a consultation today.