To replace missing teeth, the usual choices are dental implants or a bridge. Replacing missing teeth not only improves your smile, but it also prevents the other teeth in your mouth from shifting, and may also prevent you from talking and chewing in a normal fashion. How are you to decide between the two procedures and which one is the best choice for you?
First, the outlines of the two procedures are as follows…
-The dental implant is a short titanium rod inserted in the jawbone and it serves as the root of the replacement tooth.
-The surrounding bone tissue grows and fuses with the rod and cements it in place forming a secure base for the crown.
-A temporary crown is placed on the implanted rod and the whole structure may take from a few weeks to several months to completely heal, depending on the implant location in the mouth.
-Once healing is complete a permanent crown is put in place over the implant.
-A bridge consists of a type of partial fixed denture with just two or more artificial teeth.
-To place the bridge in the location of missing teeth, each tooth on either side of the missing teeth are ground down to nubs which are then replaced by crowns. The bridge is then attached to the crowns.
-If just one attachment point is present, then a cantilevered bridge is used instead.
Considerations on the Two Procedures
Although the reported success rate of dental implants run as high as 95%, it does involve surgery, and as with all surgery there are risks involved. The typical complications are the possibility of infection at the implant site, possible nerve damage that could leave the mouth numb, and damage may happen to the surrounding blood vessels and teeth. These risks are not issues in the bridge process.
The process of inserting dental implants may take significantly longer than putting in a bridge. Extra time is needed if the original teeth have to be removed, and heal before the implant can be done – this can take up to another two month. It may also take longer if a bone graft has to be done to support the implant, and can add about three to nine additional months. Most bridgework, on average, is completed within three weeks.
Dental implants are often not noticeable and have a more natural look than bridges. Bridges require that the teeth on either side of the bridge are strong in order to support the bridge, they are actually sacrificed for the replacement teeth. The dental implant process does not affect the adjacent teeth. The bridge can be affected if either one of the adjacent teeth develops issues, the entire bridge may have to be dismantled and replaced after healing the problem. Issues with adjacent teeth will not affect the dental implant. Finally, dental implants are often more expensive than bridges.
Given proper oral hygiene, a bridge will last from eight to 15 years while the dental implant is a permanent structure. However, the crowns attached in both procedures are subject to daily wear and tear and will need to be replaced periodically.
These are the facts as they apply to dental implants and bridges. If you are considering replacing your missing teeth, contact us today for a complimentary consultation.