Dental technology has advanced enough in the last 30 years that dental patients that are missing or severely damaged teeth now have several great options for replacement available. Dental bridges are a long established method of restoring your smile while dental implants are a newer method that has skyrocketed in popularity recently.
What’s the difference between a dental bridge and a dental implant though and which option is the right treatment for you? Most dentists including Dr. Benjamin Stevens of Beautiful Smiles in Greenwood, IN prefer implants due to their strength, long lifespan and ease of care. However, numerous factors need to be considered, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago, when making the decision.
Practical Reasons for Both
In the past, a bridge was the only choice available choice but it involves more than just replacing the missing tooth. The neighboring teeth on either side of the gap need to be prepared by Dr. Stevens in order to attach the bridge to these teeth. This is done by removing the enamel of the adjacent teeth to allow them to be crowned with a crown attached in between to cover the empty space.
With dental implants, Dr. Stevens screws the root of the artificial replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a prosthetic that is stronger and more permanent. Each implant is a separate device mounted in your jaw bone to replace a single tooth. However, a dental bridge may be your best option if the neighboring teeth have large fillings and may need crowns or caps in the future already. Additionally, if the tooth or teeth were lost some time before, the gum and bone tissue may have receded and procedures beyond the implant- such as bone grafts- may be necessary before implants can be placed. The advantages and disadvantages to both treatments can ultimately be discussed with Dr. Stevens.
Your Oral Care Routine
Implants are easier to clean, requiring only the same brushing and flossing as your natural teeth. Dental bridges are cemented to other teeth in your mouth, and are made up of at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. The connected nature of this design creates challenges when brushing and flossing, so it is important to be thorough when performing oral hygiene. Flossing, in particular, will require an additional step to thread the floss under the middle crown to prevent gum disease from setting in. Implants, however, replace teeth individually without affecting other teeth. You can brush and floss around them just as you would your natural tooth, making oral care much easier and more effective.
Dental implants last longer than bridges, potentially a lifetime. The metal cylinder or post that is embedded into the jawbone is normally made of titanium or zirconia and these materials can naturally fuse with your jawbone, strengthening the connection. Because of its’ strong composition, the implant is mostly resistant to decay and, if properly cared for, can last a lifetime. Only the crown (the false tooth mounted on top) will need to be replaced every 15-20 years due to normal wear and tear.
On the other hand, the average life of a dental bridge, is approximately 10 years at which point the entire bridge will need to be replaced. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth remains beneath the central crown, tooth decay can set in under the bridge over time if oral hygiene is not completed thoroughly.
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. However, most dental insurance providers now pay for at least some of the steps involved in the implant process.
Dental Implants in Greenwood, IN
Both options are better than living with embarrassment about smiling or having difficulty chewing because you’re living with missing teeth. Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants have become more commonly installed in recent years, and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth by dentists and their patients due to their durability and ease of care.
If you are considering dental implants, you need to see the best implant dentist possible. Dr. Stevens of Beautiful Smiles in Greenwood, IN is a skilled professional with almost 20 years in practice. For a consultation with Dr. Stevens about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call (317) 886-4512 or schedule a consultation online today!