Losing your teeth can sometimes place a burden on your self-confidence. Missing or extracted teeth can raise concerns of infection, but permanent solution are available today with dental treatment coming a long way in the past 15-20 years. With implants and bridges both being easily available treatments, the questions you should ask your dentist or prosthodontist can be quite a few: What’s the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant? Which one’s the right treatment option for you? Numerous factors will play a role in your decision, including something really important: did you just lose a teeth or did it happen a while ago.
Both approaches present few challenges, and treatment options for each differ as well. If you are looking for the most feasible replacement option for your teeth, it is vital to gain an in depth understanding of what each option offers, their implications, and pros or cons. Here’s a good overview on both procedures so you know what to expect and what to talk about with your dentist.
What is a dental bridge?
Dental bridges are employed to bridge the gap between one or multiple missing teeth. The bridge is supported by natural teeth, or implants on both sides. It is made up of two or more crowns creating support on both sides of the gap.
How does it work?
As an important prerequisite, the adjacent teeth need to be shaved or cut by removing most part of the enamel, in order to permanently cement the bridge in alignment with the other teeth and adjoining gum. Finally a cap is then placed over each tooth, which is essentially the long bridge covering the missing teeth underneath.
Sometimes, there are no teeth on both sides of the gap. A solution to that is to employ “Cantilevered Bridge”. It is attached to a single tooth on one side, and the bridge device is placed on top of it.
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Let’s go through some of the benefits and challenges of a bridge:
The entire procedure is simple; non-surgical unlike implants, due to which it’s less painful. A bridge works straightforwardly without the need for bone grafting, in case bone loss is present in the patient’s case.
It is much faster to go for a bridge than implants. Patients are usually done within few weeks of prep and then the final fabrication of bridge. Implants may take few months.
A bridge is comparatively pocket-friendly than an implant which can be expensive. The affordability of a bridge makes it more common among patients who have to keep economics in perspective.
Chewing is easy without any discomfort.
Let’s review some disadvantages of a bridge
Aesthetically more obvious
Bridges are aesthetically less appealing than implants since they don’t appear as natural as implants.
Burden on the surrounding structure
A major disadvantage of a bridge is that they place heavy strain on the surrounding structure, especially the two teeth that are cemented to the bridge. And for that very reason, they do not last permanently, and need to be replaced periodically after every 7-10 years.
Unnecessary tooth loss
In order for the “prepping” of the adjacent tooth, it means lots of shaving and shedding off a healthy tooth, which is essentially a loss to the natural healthy tooth.
Difficult to maintain hygiene
At times, it becomes challenging to clean or floss surrounding tissues and gums around bridge due to its bulky mass. Maintenance of hygiene can be challenging.
Dental implants have been a revolutionary breakthrough in tooth replacements. They are apparently identical to natural teeth in terms of function, strength and aesthetical appearance. They are embedded in the mouth through a surgical procedure.
How do you get an Implant?
Anytime you lose a tooth, it’s much more than alone a tooth. You also end up losing bone, ligaments and nerves. When all this is lost, the tooth support area slowly begins to deteriorate. A dental implant replaces the entire missing structure with a metal post, which is usually made up of metal titanium. After few months, new bone will grow around the implanted metal post. Once it has been embedded properly, a crown is screwed on top of this metal implant and fixated firmly.
An important prerequisite before getting implants is to get a comprehensive set of detailed digital x-rays and diagnostic planning. This determines the most feasible option for the implant treatment.
Let’s take a comparative look at their advantages and disadvantages here
Advantages of an Implant
Natural and durable
Implants look like natural teeth. They are more durable than bridges and last a lifetime.
High success rate
It has a high success rate in terms of the desired results.
Maintains bone structure
It maintains bone structure and prevents additional bone loss.
Prevents gum problems
They are resistant to gum problems and dental decay due to their strong metal composition.
Easy to clean
It is easy to clean them, and flossing in between them is easy.
Disadvantages of an implant
Following are some of the disadvantages of going for implants:
Long process time
Implants are time consuming and can take up to 3- 6 months for them to fully integrate in your jaw bone, a process known as Osseointegration.
They are known as implants since they are implanted through a surgical procedure, which can impose its own risks. Since it’s an invasive procedure, patient feels distress, and healing requires time.
Implants are very costly as compared to a bridge, and at times multiple teeth need to get replaced. Even a single implant will cost few thousand dollars.
Often, additional bone is also employed to implant teeth in alignment with the jaw structure making the treatment longer and a bit complex.
Facts About Missing Teeth By Age
Between ages 5-10, how many children in Australia have decayed, filled, or missing teeth?
Approximately 1.5 teeth
Between ages 15-34, how many Australians have decayed, filled, or missing teeth?
Approximately 4.5 missing, decayed, or filled teeth that require dental attention
How many senior citizens, between ages 55-74, have decayed, filled, or missing teeth?
Senior citizens need the most amount of dental care for missing, filled, or decayed teeth, with 22.2 teeth affected in this age group!
To conclude, your most important task is to ensure the most feasible and right course of treatment for your missing tooth. You can avail that opportunity by discussing with your dentist as to what is the best course of treatment for you since options may vary according to individual needs. A trained dentist will very carefully lay down all the particular considerations before you, to be able to navigate you through the best recommendation for you. If you carefully jot down every useful information carefully, you will be sure to have a smooth tooth replacement journey with satisfying results in the end.