Losing a tooth can put a severe dent in your self-confidence while causing discomfort and creating functionality concerns. If you’ve lost a tooth for whatever reason, know that you’ve got a few options to replace it. Two of the most common solutions that dentists use to address these problems are dental implants and dental bridges. The question is, which choice is right for you?
While dental implants and dental bridges fundamentally address the same issues, they have different aspects for you to consider. It’s essential to understand the treatment options and what each requires before choosing. Here’s what you need to know about dental implants and dental bridges to learn what’s best for you.
What Is a Dental Implant?
Dental implantation is a surgical procedure that interfaces with your jawbone to support a dental prosthesis or to act as an orthodontic anchor. Think of implants as artificial tooth roots, similar in shape to screws, typically made from titanium and anchored in a missing tooth. It is an option when you need to replace a particular tooth or when you’re missing several teeth in different areas.
Modern implants have been successfully used for more than 30 years now. It is one of the safest methods in dentistry when performed by a trained and experienced dentist. When a single tooth dental implant is put in your jawbone, they bond with your natural bone. It becomes a strong support for holding one or more artificial teeth, called crowns. Dental implants will take up to six months to complete, but it will create an incredibly stable and durable prosthetic.
Types of Dental Implants
There are two basic types of dental implants you can choose from, depending on the size of your jawbone or which one your dentist recommends.
1. Endosteal implants
This is the most commonly used dental implant. The endosteal implant is suited for most patients but require a good and healthy jawbone for the post to fuse to. If your jaw is broad and dense, the dentist will most likely recommend this.
Endosteal implants are shaped like screws that are placed into your jawbone for a secure fit but takes time to fuse and create a stronghold. After healing for several months, the implants can be placed onto the post to fit in with the surrounding teeth.
2. Subperiosteal implants
The subperiosteal implant is the alternative to Endosteal Implants. Not everyone qualifies for the endosteal implant due to special needs. It is highly recommended if you have a shallow jawbone.
On the procedure, a metal frame will be placed under your gum with a post attached to it. Then the gum will heal around the frame to hold it in place. Once your gums heal post-surgery, your implant will become secure and as long-lasting as an endosteal implant.
Advantages of Dental Implants
A high-quality implant can be expected to last for decades. The replacement tooth resembles a natural tooth, so it will allow you to eat confidently, smile, laugh, and enjoy all of your everyday activities without any worries. Also, dental implants are maintained just the same way as your natural teeth with daily brushing and flossing.
Also read: How to Best Care for your Teeth and Gums
Another significant advantage is that nearby teeth aren’t disrupted, so the rest of your teeth remain intact. It also promotes the healing of bone structures and gums underneath the teeth. Unlike a bridge, which requires healthy teeth to be shaped to fit crowns, a dental implant is a stand-alone treatment which doesn’t rely on adjacent teeth for support. They also tend to reduce long-term risks posed to the jaw.
Disadvantages of Dental Implants
A dental implant involves several stages and takes time to complete. It is a costly treatment, especially if you have a large number of individual teeth that need to be replaced in different spots. And since it is a surgical procedure, you’ll need to be in good physical health for surgery and recovery. Your dentist will not attach the replacement tooth until the dental implant completely heals.
What Is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a fixed dental reconstruction used to substitute one or more missing teeth by joining an artificial tooth to adjacent teeth or dental implants. As the name implies, a dental bridge connects the gap between teeth. It has been an integral part of modern dentistry since the early part of the last century and before the use of implants was the preferred method for replacing teeth.
Unlike dental implants, fixed bridges do not replace a tooth root. Instead, it uses one or more surrounding teeth as a support on which to attach a crown that fills the missing tooth. The process is not nearly as long as the implant process. However, it is more invasive in some ways because it requires the permanent alteration of adjacent teeth to support the bridge.
Advantages of Dental Bridges
Bridges are one of the most cost-effective ways of replacing a missing tooth. It offers a quicker process for replacing missing teeth than implants. You only need 2 to 3 appointments to complete the reconstruction. Also, dental bridges feel and look like natural teeth, and they’re typically cheaper than dental implants.
Getting used to a dental bridge is easy and comfortable because they are usually small, lightweight, and provide excellent comfort. A bridge corrects and re-distribute the normal bite force, compromised by the missing tooth. Another advantage is they don’t require bone grafting if bone loss is present.
Disadvantages of Dental Bridges
A bridge is not as natural or as aesthetically pleasing as a tooth implant. Also, a poorly fitted bridge could gradually damage adjoining teeth over time. You may need to replace it due to wear and tear or decay on the supporting teeth.
A dental bridge needs more attention to keep it healthy and clean. You will need a specialised floss to maintain it. Plaque and other bacteria could seep underneath the bridge, causing an infection or a tooth decay.
Which Option Is Best?
Every patient has his or her own unique dental needs, so it’s always better to visit your dentist and discuss the best option for you. Dental implants and dental bridges both have specific eligibility requirements that must be met to qualify as a candidate.
A dental implant must be performed after adolescence when bone growth is complete. Smokers will need to quit to qualify as a candidate because there is a higher rate of implant failure for smokers. Additionally, people suffering from diabetes, cancer, or periodontal disease may need additional treatments to qualify for an implant.
On the other hand, the dental bridge is far less restrictive because of the relatively less-invasive nature of the bridge procedure. The primary factor in determining bridge candidacy is the health and stability of the supporting teeth. If you suffer from periodontal disease, tooth decay, or have chips or cracks, you may need to undergo additional treatments before the teeth are healthy enough to support a dental bridge.
In some cases, the dentists will recommend both options. For example, if you lose all your molars, your dentist needs to put in an implant at one end, where there is no longer a tooth. Your dentist may then add a cap at the other end to create a bridge from the implant post to the healthy tooth.
Dental Implants and Bridges at GC Dental Solutions
It’s essential to ensure you find the right treatment for your missing tooth or teeth. You need to speak to your trusted dentist about what options may be right for you. If you’d like to find out whether you’re best suited to an implant or a bridge, why not get in touch with GC Dental Solutions to book an appointment?
Experienced dental surgeon Dr Sempf has been working with dental implants on the Gold Coast for over 15 years. GC Dental Solutions’ Helensvale dentists can help you address any missing teeth and develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to your needs. Call GC Dental Solutions today at 07 5573 1368 to book your initial consultation.