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Did you recently lose a tooth? It’s more common than people realize. In fact, the global average prevalence of complete tooth loss is 7% among people ages 20 years and up.
Losing teeth can become socially damaging, psychologically traumatic, and functionally limiting.
If you recently lost a tooth, talk to your dentist about getting a dental bridge vs implant. They can help you determine which option suits your needs.
What’s the difference between dental implants and bridges? Read on to find out!
What Is a Dental Bridge?
Dental bridges are false teeth that rely on your natural surrounding teeth to remain in place. Bridges are often made from materials like plastic or porcelain. They’re designed to match your natural tooth color.
A dental bridge can cover one missing tooth or several missing teeth.
As the name indicates, they help to “bridge the gap” in your smile. A dental bridge is made of abutments and pontics. Abutments are structures that support the bridge.
Pontics are artificial teeth designed to fill the gap created by your missing teeth.
Your dentist may recommend different types of dental bridges based on your oral care needs and goals.
A traditional dental bridge is the most common. It features dental crowns that appear on both ends with pontics in between. Your dentist will bond the crowns to your natural teeth.
A traditional bridge is ideal if you have healthy natural teeth on each side of the gap.
A cantilever dental bridge has a crown at only one end. Once placed, the pontic will hang over the gap. Your dentist may recommend this option if you only have natural teeth on one side of the gap.
These bridges aren’t as strong as traditional bridges, given their design.
An implant-supported bridge will rest atop dental implants instead of your natural teeth. Your dentist might recommend this option if you have a row of three or more missing teeth.
To determine which type of dental bridge you need, your dentist will consider:
- Your age
- The health of your gums and teeth
- The condition of your teeth near the gap
- How many teeth are missing
- The size of the gap
Here are a few pros and cons to consider before choosing a dental bridge over dental implants.
Dental bridges usually require lower upfront costs than dental implants. In most cases, this procedure is covered by insurance. Make sure to consult your insurance provider before scheduling your procedure.
Dental bridges don’t require bone grafting or invasive surgery. In fact, the procedure usually takes one or two visits. You can schedule these visits over a couple of weeks.
A dental bridge will provide a natural-looking solution if you’ve lost one or more teeth. It can help restore your ability to chew and speak.
If you’re missing a tooth, the neighboring teeth might begin leaning toward the gap. Your remaining teeth might appear crooked as a result.
Don’t delay seeking treatment. Otherwise, complications could develop.
There are also some drawbacks to consider.
For example, tooth decay or an accident could damage your teeth. Either issue could weaken the bridge.
When your abutment teeth aren’t strong enough to offer support, they can fracture.
It’s also important to clean your dental bridge and the underlying gum tissue. Otherwise, plaque and bacteria can develop. They can cause tooth decay or gum disease if you neglect your oral care.
After your procedure, make sure to prioritize your oral health by brushing and flossing daily. Use nonabrasive fluoride toothpaste to maintain your bridge.
You should also avoid chewing on pens/pencils, ice, or your fingernails to avoid causing damage.
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial replacement for a lost tooth root. Your dentist will screw the implant into your jawbone. Surgically implanting the abutment will ensure its stability.
The abutment will then support your fake tooth (crown).
About three million people currently have dental implants. Implant dentistry has some of the highest success rates of any medical procedure.
Your dentist will need to make sure you’re an ideal candidate before scheduling your dental surgery. Ideal candidates have good overall dental health. They also have a healthy, stable jaw that can support the implant.
You’re not eligible if you:
- Have metabolic bone disease
- Are receiving cancer treatment
- Are a heavy smoker
- Have uncontrolled diabetes
Your dentist will break your treatment plan into multiple appointments. You’ll need to heal after they surgically place the abutment. This process, called osseointegration, ensures the abutment is stable.
During a second appointment, you’ll receive the crown.
Here are a few pros and cons to consider before receiving dental implants.
One of the top benefits of dental implants is the stability they offer. They can restore your ability to bite and chew. Their durability will also ensure they last.
Dental implants can last for up to 15 years if taken care of.
Implants also retain their natural-looking appearance longer than dental bridges.
This surgical option can help you avoid bone loss. When you lose a tooth, your jawbone loses stimulation to the area. The jawbone will break down over time.
You might notice changes to your appearance if you don’t receive a dental implant. For example, wrinkles could form. Your face might sink inward.
A dental implant will help you avoid bone loss. It will also look and feel like your natural teeth.
Your insurance company may not cover your dental implant procedure. If they do, you might have to cover a higher upfront cost.
The entire process of receiving your dental implant could take up to six months. Talk to your dentist for a more accurate timeline.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and complications to consider, such as:
- Nerve or tissue damage
- Allergic reactions to anesthetic
- Gum recession
- Implant failure
However, dental implants do have a high success rate. Choose an experienced dental implant dentist to avoid complications.
Consult Your Dentist Today
Which is better for your oral care: a dental bridge vs implant? It depends on your needs and oral care concerns. Consult your dentist to make an informed choice.
With their help, you can restore your smile!
We can restore the functionality and appearance of your smile. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.