Dental Implants Vs. Dental Bridges
Tooth replacement solutions have progressed quite impressively across the past three decades or so. If you have a badly damaged tooth or a missing tooth, do not assume you have to live with this problem for the rest of your life. Dental implants, dental bridges, and other oral health solutions are available. The question is whether dental implants or dental bridges are optimal for your unique mouth. In many cases, dental implants will prove ideal yet there are an array of factors that must be considered before taking either route.
There are Good Reasons to use Dental Implants and Dental Bridges
It was not long ago when dental bridges were the sole choice for those with missing or damaged teeth. Dental bridges require a shaving or filing away of the majority of the enamel on adjacent teeth. This enamel removal is necessary to position the bridge and keep it firmly in place. Alternatively, dental implants merely require the replacement of the tooth in question. However, there are some situations in which dental bridges are the superior option. As an example, if the adjacent teeth next to the gap in your mouth or damaged tooth have considerable fillings and require caps or crowns in the future, the dental bridge might suffice.
How Dental Bridges and Dental Implants Impact Oral Care
It will be that much easier to maintain your oral health if you opt for a dental implant as opposed to a dental bridge. Dental bridges are fixed or cemented in the mouth. It takes a minimum of three crowns linked together to fill the area of the missing tooth. Unfortunately, this design makes it somewhat challenging to brush and floss as you normally would. Additional oral hygiene care will be necessary to maintain oral health.
As an example, it will help to thread the floss below the artificial tooth and use a more inclusive toothbrush. Alternatively, dental implants replace each tooth individually without compromising other teeth, making it that much easier to complete regular home dental care. Go ahead and floss and brush around your dental implant just as you would with your normal teeth.
Dental bridges1 and dental implants2 do not look the same. Dental implants are vastly superior in terms of aesthetics as it provides a visually striking result. The dentist really will make this artificial tooth look similar to the rest of the natural teeth in your mouth. In some cases, it is possible to place a dental implant immediately following tooth extraction to maintain the natural bone level and ultimately enhance your smile aesthetics. Alternatively, patients who opt for dental bridges will make it perfectly clear they are relying on dental aid. If visual appeal is your primary concern, dental implants are clearly the superior option.
What About Durability?
Dental implants are remarkably durable, especially when compared to dental bridges. This enhanced durability ensures the dental implant will last for decades if not your entire lifetime. Dental implants feature a metal cylinder typically comprised of titanium. The titanium connects to the jawbone through the process known as osseointegration. This metal is strong enough that it can combat decay as well as gum issues. Alternatively, the typical lifespan of a dental bridge is about a decade. Part of the natural tooth is left below the dental bridge so regular wear and tear can lead to bridge failure as time progresses. Unfortunately, the leftover tooth structure will prove vulnerable to decay as well as gum disease. There is no such worry with dental implants as the entire tooth is removed. AnaBella Family and Cosmetic Dentistry3 has said, "Studies have shown that 95% of implants4 remain intact after ten years, whereas only 89% of bridges are holding in that same amount of time."
Is It Possible to use Both Dental Implants and Dental Bridges?
In some cases, it makes sense to use both dental implants and dental bridges. In particular, patients who have lost a considerable number of teeth across a row will likely benefit from a mixed approach. If you lose all of your molars, the dentist might insert a dental implant at one end where there is a missing tooth. The dentist can connect a cap at the other end, forming a bridge that stretches from the implant post to the normal tooth. It is also possible to add two dental implant posts that are straddled by bridge-like structures for those who have lost the majority or all of the teeth in a particular portion of their mouth.
Are There any Negatives to Dental Implants?
At this point, readers are likely questioning if there is any reason to opt for dental bridges instead of dental implants. As noted above, there are some situations in which it makes sense to add dental bridges. There are some notable negatives to dental implants we would be remiss to gloss over. For one, dental implants require surgery. The implants have to be surgically connected to the jaw bone through a process of osseointegration that takes upwards of six months to complete. There will always be some inherent risks to surgery of any kind. As an example, dental implant surgery has a minor chance to lead to nerve damage, infection, jaw fracture or damage to neighboring teeth.
Aside from surgery, the cost is also an issue with dental implants, especially for cash-strapped individuals. The cost hinges on the type of dental implant as well as the condition of the tooth tissue. Finally, dental implants require more time than dental bridges. It will take more than a single visit with the dentist to add a dental implant to your mouth. The jaw bone, just like every other bone, takes a while to heal. The procedure has the potential to last several months yet most of those who have dental implants agree the wait was well worth it.
Schedule Your Appointment at Universal Smiles Dentistry
Meet with our dentist to determine if dental implants or dental bridges are ideal for your mouth. This is your opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns and pick our dentist's brain. Give us a call at (386) 775-9933 (Orange City residents5) or (386) 423-3652 (Edgewater residents6) to schedule your initial appointment.