Thanks to the advances in dental medicine made in the last 30 years, patients with missing teeth now have several great options available. Dental bridges were the established method of replacing missing teeth until the technology for dental implants became widespread. The popularity of dental implants has risen steadily in recent years.
But maybe you don’t really understand the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant? And which treatment option is the right one 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, many things need to be considered when making this choice, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
In the past, a dental bridge was the only choice available to individuals with missing teeth. However, a bridge involves more than just the missing tooth. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap will need to be prepared to support the bridge. This is done by removing most of the enamel in order to attach crowns over them that will support the bridge. With dental implants, Dr. Sowell embeds the implant post that holds the false 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 or numerous fillings and may need crowns or caps in the future. If the tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone tissue will have receded and procedures beyond the implant- such as bone grafts- may be needed before placement. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with Dr. Sowell.
Your Oral Care Routine
Oral hygiene is definitely easier with an implant than a bridge. Dental bridges involve at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. You cannot floss between them. Nor can you remove them. This design creates difficulties when brushing and flossing, so it is important to be thorough when cleaning around them. Flossing, in particular, will create a challenge, requiring the additional step of threading the floss under the false tooth to prevent gum disease from setting in.
In comparison, implants replace teeth individually without affecting other teeth. Therefore, you can brush and floss around an implant as you would your natural teeth, making oral care much easier and more effective than with bridges.
Dental implants are more durable than bridges, making them a tooth replacement solution that can last a lifetime. The metal cylinder or post that is embedded into the jawbone to support the abutment and crown is usually constructed of titanium or zirconia and this material fuses with your jawbone naturally, preventing future bone loss that can occur if there is not a tooth or implant in place. Because the implant is made of such strong material, they are mostly resistant to decay. If a dental implant is properly cared for, the implant portion can last a lifetime with only the crown (the false tooth mounted on top) requiring replacement every 15-20 years due to normal wear and tear. However, crowns can last longer if used with are and properly maintained.
On the other hand, dental bridges last approximately 10 years on average before the entire bridge will need to be replaced. Also, because the remaining tooth structures beneath the crowns continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease, bridges may fail earlier if not cared for properly.
While dental bridges cost less initially, their need for regular replacement in the future means you may spend more over time. With implants there is greater expense up front but you may save money over time. Fortunately, most dental insurance providers now pay for all or part of the implant process.
The timetable for completing an implant is also generally more flexible, allowing patients to pay the cost in increments. For example, as sometimes a bone graft is needed to reinforce the jawbone to support an implant, the healing time will give the patient time to save more before an implant can be done.
Dental Implants in Plano, TX
Both options are preferable to being embarrassed of your smile or having difficulty chewing due to missing teeth. Although bridges are still a reliable and common procedure, dental implants have become more common in recent years, and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth due to their durability and the simplicity of their care.
If you are considering dental implants, you need to choose the best implant dentist in your area. Dr. Mark Sowell of Sensational Smiles in Plano TX is a skilled professional with over 25 years in practice. For a consultation with Dr. Mark Sowell about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call (972) 382-6855 or schedule a complimentary consultation online today!