Dental ImplantsPatients who are missing one or several teeth should give some serious thought to the many different replacement options. Our dentist is here to help you determine whether a dental implant, bridge or another solution is ideal for your mouth. Once your missing teeth are replaced, you will be confident in your smile. Perhaps most importantly, you will feel liberated to act like your true self in social settings without fear of an embarrassing gap between your teeth distracting everyone in the room. Let's take a quick look at the differences and similarities between dental bridges and dental implants.

A Brief Look at Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are commonly used dental restorations that replace missing teeth or damaged teeth that will be extracted. Dental bridges are just as they sound: these bridges cover the gap left behind when a tooth is knocked out or falls out on its own. Fixed bridges are permanent in that only the dentist can remove them. Opt for a bridge and you will enjoy the benefit of one or several false teeth referred to as pontics. A pontic is used for every missing tooth. One or several anchoring crowns, known as abutment teeth, are used on the sides. The gap is filled with either a porcelain, alloy, zirconia or gold pontic. The abutment teeth connected to the natural teeth next to the gap ensure the dental bridge is held firmly in place.

In order for the bridge to connect to the adjacent natural teeth, those teeth have to be filed or shaved down. Otherwise, there will not be enough space for proper crown alignment with the opposing teeth. Nor will there be adequate surface area to permit a powerful bond. However, the natural teeth have to be in decent shape in terms of structure and void of decay in order for the bridge to serve its intended purpose. Once the bridge is added, it will prove irreversible. This means as soon as your natural teeth are altered, they will not be used as normal teeth again. This is precisely why patients should consider the merits of dental implants before moving forward with a dental bridge.

The Basics of Dental Implants

Dental implants1 are fake tooth roots, sometimes referred to as posts, comprised of titanium. The dental implant attaches to the jaw in order to support a crown. The dental implant post fuses to the jaw during a brief surgical procedure. The post then osseointegrates with the jaw to ensure a stable anchor. It will take several months for this process to complete. Once osseointegration is finished, an abutment will be added to the post. The abutment extends higher than the gum line, creating a surface for the dental crown to be cemented or screwed onto. It is also possible to use two or several dental implants to form an implant-supported bridge.

Which is Best for Your Unique Mouth – A Dental Bridge or a Dental Implant?

More and more people are choosing dental implants over dental bridges and other dental restorations. The primary advantage of a dental implant is it preserves jaw health. The jaw bone will stay healthy and strong long after the dental implant is added. The bottom line is every single patient needs a strong jaw bone for continued oral health. A robust jaw bone will also help maintain a symmetrical face shape across the aging process. Dr. Zhu from Freedom Dental2 adds, "Conventional types of tooth replacement either require reshaping healthy teeth or wearing bulky removable prosthetics that can sometimes cause discomfort." The icing on the cake is the fact that dental implants look just like regular teeth. In fact, dental implants feel and function just like normal teeth to boot. Opt for dental implants and you can expect them to last at least a full decade or two, possibly even longer.

Drawbacks to Dental Implants

Some patients opt for dental bridges instead of dental implants as implants require surgery. The dental implant process can take upwards of six months to complete as the titanium rods must fuse to the jaw bone before the crown can be added. In comparison, the procedure required for a dental bridge is safe, easy and quick. Dental bridges can be installed in as few as a couple of visits while it takes at least three or more visits for dental implants. Dental bridges are cheaper than dental implants yet each patient's dental insurance has its own nuances so be sure to get quotes for both before making a commitment.

The Downside to Dental Bridges

The addition of a dental bridge has the potential to cause the bone tissue beneath the crown to be repositioned, leading to instability. If the crown proves unstable, it will not last as long as intended. Patients should expect to replace their crowns every 7 to 10 years. The crown replacement process weakens neighboring teeth, making them even more susceptible to decay.

Dental Implants or a Dental Bridge: The Choice is Yours

Meet with our dentist to discuss additional pros and cons of dental implants and dental bridges. We will ensure you understand all of the potential benefits and drawbacks before moving forward with either of these options. In general, those who qualify as good candidates for dental implants and can afford them tend to take this route as opposed to dental bridges. As long as your jaw is strong, your dental health is adequate and you are a non-smoker, you will likely qualify as a good candidate for dental implants.

Alternatively, if you put a high value on a rapid solution and detest the idea of surgery, a dental bridge might be best for your unique mouth. Dental implant surgery is simply out of the question for certain patients. Some fear such a surgery while others have medical conditions that make surgery too risky. If you have a heightened risk for dental implant failure, cannot afford dental implants or dislike the idea of surgery, you will be served well by a dental bridge.

AnaBella Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

Whether you need dental implants, bridges, smile beautification or another dental restoration, our dental health professional can help. Give us a call at (425) 230-4308 to schedule an appointment3.