Replacing missing teeth has come a long way in the past 30 years. Missing or extracted teeth raise common concerns for our patients, but proper replacement is key to a confident & functioning smile. Some questions that may come to mind are “What’s the difference between a dental bridge and an implant? What’s the right option for me? Very often the dental implant is ideal, but certain factors will be considered first.
Practical reasons for both options
In the past, a bridge was your only choice, and involves more than just the missing tooth. The adjacent teeth need to be “prepped” by removing most of the enamel in order to fabricate the bridge. With dental implants, A specialist replaces just the individual tooth for a result that is stronger and permanent. 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 have been missing for a long time, the gum and bone will have receded and procedures beyond the implant could be required before placement. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with Dr. Amin. with a dental bridge, teeth can not be flossed in between so maintenance is key. In addition, with a bridge, the area where the tooth is missing will have a progression of bone loss. Implants help secure the bone.
Changes in your oral care routine
Your ability to keep your mouth healthy will be easier with an implant. Dental bridges are cemented or “fixed” in the mouth, and involve at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. This design creates challenges when brushing and flossing, so extra oral hygiene instruction and meticulous home care are crucial. When flossing, in particular, an additional step is needed to thread the floss under the false tooth. In contrast, implants can replace teeth individually without affecting other teeth, making regular home care more successful. You can effectively brush and floss around an implant just like your natural tooth.
Dental implants are more durable than bridges, allowing them to provide protection that lasts a lifetime. The implant’s metal cylinder is normally made of titanium, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), and this material fuses with your jawbone naturally through a process called osseointegration. Because it’s made of such a strong metal, they are very resistant to decay and gum problems. The average life of a dental bridge, on the other hand, is approximately 8-10 years. A portion of your natural tooth remains beneath it and normal wear may cause the bridge to fail more easily over time. In general, the remaining tooth structure continues to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.
What about esthetics? There isn’t always a simple answer, but Dr. Amin will be able to advise you. Often the implant will provide the most pleasing result, Dr. Amin and the Dental Lab can make the final tooth look just like your natural enamel. Sometimes, an implant can be placed immediately after a tooth extraction, preserving the natural level of bone and improving the final appearance of the dental work. The Specialist you see will be able to advise you on your options for an immediate implant placement or if you will need to wait after the extraction has been done.
Dental Bridge vs. Implant Cost
The cost of the dental bridge is initially less, but it may need to be replaced at some point in the future. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may seem more expensive, but over time can be more cost-effective. Implants have a 95-99% success rate if done properly compared to bridges. Fortunately, most dental insurance providers are paying for a portion of or all of the steps involved. Our office staff can help you with your specific insurance and answer any questions you have. In addition, implant treatment can be more flexible, allowing patients to budget the cost in increments. After extraction, for example, a bone graft is sometimes needed. This graft typically has to heal for several months before implant placement, at which point Osseointegration can take anywhere from three to six months before the process is complete.
Dental bridge vs. implant? Make this decision after carefully consulting with Dr. Amin about all your options. She knows your mouth best and has the tools and knowledge to guide you through what’s best. Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants have become very indicative and routine over the years, and in most cases are the preferable treatment both in time and expense.