Dental technology has advanced to the point at which patients with missing teeth now have several great options available to help them restore the appearance and functioning of their smiles. Dental bridges are the more established method of filling the gaps in your smile. However, the availability and popularity of dental implants has increased in recent years.
But what are the major differences between a dental bridge and a dental implant? And which treatment option is the right one for you? Most dentists including Dr. John C. Cranham of the Chesapeake Center for Complete Dentistry in Chesapeake, VA prefer dental implants due to their durability, longevity and the simplicity of their care. However, numerous factors need to be considered when making the decision, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
While dentures have been used to replace entire arches of teeth for hundreds of years, bridges were once the only choice available to replace a single tooth or a few teeth. A dental bridge affects more than just the missing tooth. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap must be altered by removing most of the outer layer of enamel in order to place the bridge, attaching it to crowns that will be fitted onto these teeth. However, with dental implants, Dr. Cranham embeds the replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a restoration that is strong and permanent.
A dental bridge may, however, be your best option if the teeth surrounding the gap have large fillings and will need crowns or caps in the future. If the tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone tissues will have receded and additional surgeries beyond the implant- such as bone grafts- will be required before placement can occur. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with Dr. Cranham.
Your Oral Care Routine
Oral hygiene is simpler with a dental implant than with a bridge. This is because dental bridges are cemented in the mouth, and are composed of at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. The nature of this design can make proper brushing and flossing more difficult, so it is important to be meticulous when cleaning.
Flossing, in particular, will require the owner of the bridge to thread the floss under where the crowns are connected to prevent gum disease from setting in. But dental implants replace teeth individually without affecting other teeth, allowing you to brush and floss around an implant as you would your natural tooth, making effective oral care much easier.
Dental implants are more durable than bridges, providing a restoration that can last a lifetime. The implant screw that serves as the root of the prosthetic is a metal cylinder that is normally made from titanium or zirconia and this material is resistant to decay and naturally fuses with your jawbone. 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 screw will last a lifetime with only the crown on top requiring a replacement every 5-10 years due to normal wear and tear.
On the other hand, the average life of a dental bridge is approximately 10 years at which time the entire bridge will most likely need to be replaced. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth remains beneath it, the remaining tooth structure will continue to be vulnerable 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 due to only needing the crowns replaced occasionally. Fortunately, most dental insurance providers now pay for a portion of or all of the steps involved in the implant process.
Dental Implants in Chesapeake, VA
Both options are better than feeling hesitant to smile because you’re self-conscious or having difficulty chewing. Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants have become more commonly available over the years, and in most cases are the most ideal method of treatment for missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care.
If you are considering dental implants, you need to see the best implant dentist possible. Dr. Cranham of Chesapeake Center for Complete Dentistry in Chesapeake, VA is a skilled professional with over 30 years in practice. For a consultation with Dr. Cranham or his associate, Dr. Kelsey Knuth about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call 757.656.4109 or schedule a comprehensive consultation online today!