Dental technology has made significant advances in dental prosthetics in the past 30 years. Patients with missing teeth now have several great treatment options available. Dental bridges have been long established as a method for replacing missing teeth to fill in the gaps in your smile. Dental implants are a newer method that has increased in popularity in recent years but may cost more up front.
So what’s the difference between a dental bridge versus a dental implant? Which treatment option is the right one for you? Most dentists, including Dr. Brent Blaylock in Durham, NC prefer dental implants due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, numerous factors need to be considered, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago and the condition of your remaining teeth.
Practical Reasons for Both
In the past, a bridge was really the only choice you had to replace a single or just a few missing teeth. A bridge involves more than just the missing tooth. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap need to be prepared by removing most of the enamel in order to place the bridge, attaching it to these teeth. With dental implants, Dr. Blaylock embeds the prosthetic replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a tooth that is stronger and permanent.
However, a dental bridge may be your best option if the neighboring teeth have cavities and/or large fillings and may need crowns or caps in the future. If the missing tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone tissue will have receded and procedures beyond the implant- such as bone grafts- may be necessary before placement. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with Dr. Blaylock.
Your Oral Care Routine
Your ability to keep your mouth clean and healthy will be easier with an implant. Dental bridges are constructed of at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. The nature of this design creates challenges to properly cleaning your teeth, so it is important to be meticulous when brushing and flossing them.
Flossing, in particular, will require you to thread the floss under the false tooth to prevent gum disease from setting in. In contrast, implants replace teeth individually, from the roots up, without affecting other teeth. You can brush and floss around an implant as you would your natural tooth, making oral care much easier and more effective.
Dental implants are more durable than bridges, providing protection that lasts a lifetime. The metal cylinder or post that is embedded into the jawbone is normally made of titanium or zirconia and this material fuses with your jawbone naturally. Because it is made from such strong material, the implant itself is completely resistant to decay. If a dental implant is properly cared for, the implant portion will last a lifetime with only the crown (the false tooth mounted on top) needing 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 time the entire bridge will need to be replaced. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth remains alive beneath it, the remaining tooth structures continue to be susceptible 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. Fortunately, most dental insurance providers now pay for a portion of or all of the parts of the implant process.
Dental Implants in Durham, NC
Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants have become more commonplace over the years, and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care. Both options are preferable to being self-conscious about your smile or having difficulty chewing.
If you are considering dental implants, you need to see the best implant dentist possible. Dr. Blaylock in Durham, NC is a skilled professional with almost 40 years in practice. For a consultation with Dr. Blaylock about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call 919.518.9963 or schedule a comprehensive consultation online today!