Dental technology has advanced significantly in the last 30 years. Patients with missing teeth now have several great options available. Dental bridges have been a long established method of filling the gaps in your smile. Dental implants are a newer method that has increased in popularity in recent years. What’s the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant? Which treatment option is right for you? Most dentists including Dr. Mark Sowell of Sensational Smiles in Plano TX prefer implants due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, numerous factors need to be considered, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
In the past, a bridge was the only choice available. A bridge involves more than just the missing tooth. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap need to be prepared by removing most of the enamel in order to place the bridge, attaching it to these teeth. With dental implants, Dr. Sowell embeds the replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a tooth that is stronger and permanent. Nonetheless, a dental bridge may be your best option if the neighboring teeth have large fillings and need crowns or caps in the future. If the tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone will have receded and procedures beyond the implant- such as bone grafts- will be required before placement. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with Dr. Sowell.
Your Oral Care Routine
Your ability to keep your mouth clean and healthy will be easier with an implant. Dental bridges are cemented in the mouth, and involve at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. The nature of this design creates challenges when brushing and flossing, so it is important to be meticulous when cleaning. Flossing, in particular, will require an additional step to thread the floss under the false tooth to prevent gum disease from setting in. In contrast, implants replace teeth individually without affecting other teeth. You can brush and floss around an implant as you would your natural tooth, making oral care much easier and more effective.
Dental implants are more durable than bridges, providing protection that lasts a lifetime. The metal cylinder or post that is embedded into the jawbone is normally made of titanium or zirconia and this material fuses with your jawbone naturally. Because it’s comprised of such strong material, the implant is mostly resistant to decay. If a dental implant is properly cared for, the implant portion will last a lifetime with only the crown (the false tooth mounted on top) needing to be replaced every 15-20 years due to normal wear and tear. However, they can last longer with proper care. On the other hand, the average life of a dental bridge, is approximately 10 years and the entire bridge will need to be replaced. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth remains beneath it, normal wear may cause the bridge over time as the remaining tooth structures continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.
The cost of the dental bridge is less initially, but it will need to be replaced at some point in the future. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may seem more expensive, but can actually save you money over time. Fortunately, most dental insurance providers now pay for a portion of or all of the steps involved in the implant process. Implant treatment is also generally more flexible, allowing patients to budget the cost in increments. For example, a bone graft is sometimes needed to reinforce the jawbone to support an implant. This graft typically has to heal for several months before an implant can be done. This inadvertently allows the patient more time to save for the next phase of the process.
Both options are preferable to being afraid to smile because you’re self-conscious or having difficulty chewing. Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants have become more commonplace over the years, and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care.
Dental Implants in Plano TX
If you are considering dental implants, you need to see the best implant dentist possible. Dr. Mark Sowell of Sensational Smiles in Plano TX is a skilled professional with over 25 years in practice. For a consultation with Dr. Sowell about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call (972) 382-6855 or schedule a complimentary consultation online today!