Dental patients today have more options for tooth replacement than ever before. While it is always best to do what you can to preserve your teeth, the truth is that most older adults lose one or more teeth to decay, gum disease or trauma as the years go by.
Once a tooth is lost, replacement is necessary to protect the rest of your teeth and make sure that you feel comfortable with your smile.
Bridges and implants are two options that we offer our patients, and knowing the pros and cons of both helps you make the best decisions for your oral health.
How a Dental Bridge Works
A dental bridge gets its name because it literally resembles one. When a bridge is placed, special crowns are placed on the teeth that are adjacent to the gap left by the missing tooth. Between these two crowns is what we call a pontic, or prosthetic tooth.
Once the bridge is placed, you can eat and speak normally. However, you may need to use special hygiene techniques to clean under the middle part of the restoration.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Getting a Bridge
There are several considerations that you must consider when you are trying to make a decision between a bridge or implant. These include factors such as the time involved, the cost as well as the overall finished results.
With bridges, one of the biggest benefits is that they tend to be less expensive than an implant. They are also easier to alter since all of the restoration lies above the gum line. You might choose a bridge if you anticipate future changes in your smile.
However, you should be aware that getting a bridge alters the shape of the adjacent teeth on which the crowns are placed. This may be considered a drawback if those teeth are currently healthy and do not require treatments.
You should also know that a bridge does provide some stimulation to the jawbone, it is not quite the same as what you receive with an implant.
How Dental Implants are Placed
The implant procedure involves placing a special titanium post in your jawbone that serves as the base for a tooth crown. Implants can be used to replace a single tooth, several teeth or as anchors for dentures.
For people with healthy mouths, dental implants usually take several visits, and you may need to plan for healing time before you can have the final restorations placed.
Pros and Cons of Getting Implants
Our patients are generally happy with their implants since they look and feel much like natural teeth when you chew, talk and smile.
In addition to reducing bone loss that can accompany having missing teeth, implants provide a permanent type of restoration that eliminates many of the concerns people have about bridges.
For instance, you can replace a tooth while leaving the rest of your healthy teeth alone. Implants are also more ideal for replacing missing teeth toward the front of the mouth where a bridge may be more noticeable.
Implants do not have many drawbacks, but their placement does involve a surgical procedure. For this reason, you should be in generally good health, and you may need to address any gum disease before you can have the posts placed.
However, the extra time and effort involved with implants is worth it when you can smile with confidence.
At Shumway Dental Care, we always suggest coming in for your consultation with an open mind. After a complete exam and discussion of your oral health history and lifestyle, we can help you decide whether a bridge or implant best fits your needs for long-term happiness with your smile.
Categories: Bridges, Implants
Tags: replace missing teeth, dental bridges, dental implants