Dental technology has made amazing advances in the last three decades. Patients with missing teeth now have several great options for smile restoration available. Dental bridges are the long established method of replacing missing and damaged teeth. However, dental implants are now widely available and have been increasing in popularity in recent years.
So what’s the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant? Which treatment option is right for you? Most dentists including Dr. Stacey Sparkman Hall of Williamsburg Center Dental Health in Williamsburg, VA prefer dental implants due to their durability and ease of care. However, numerous factors need to be taken into consideration, including if your tooth loss is relatively recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
In the past, a bridge was the best available choice for replacing missing teeth. However, a dental bridge involves more than just the missing tooth. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap must be prepared too. This is done by removing most of the enamel in order to place the bridge, attaching it to these teeth for support. With dental implants, Dr. Hall embeds the replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a tooth that is stronger and permanent without altering healthy neighboring teeth.
Nonetheless, a dental bridge may be your best option if the neighboring teeth have large fillings and will probably need crowns or caps in the future as wear and decay continue. Additionally, if the tooth or teeth that are missing were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone will have receded and procedures beyond the implant- such as bone grafts- will be required before placement. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with Dr. Hall or your local area dentist at a consultation.
Your Oral Care Routine
With a dental implant, your ability to keep your mouth clean and healthy will be easier as there are no changes to the way you will brush and floss. Dental bridges are cemented in the mouth, and are made up of at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. The interconnected nature of this design creates challenges when brushing and flossing, so it is important to be very thorough when cleaning.
Flossing, in particular, will require new techniques as the floss will need to be threaded under the false tooth to prevent gum disease from setting in there. In contrast, implants replace teeth individually at the root without affecting other teeth. You can brush and floss around an implant just as you would your natural tooth, making oral care much easier and more effective than with a bridge.
Dental implants are more durable than bridges with the implant screw itself often lasting a lifetime and only the crown needing replacement due to natural wear and tear. The implant screw — 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’s made from such a strong material, the implant is mostly resistant to decay.
The average lifespan 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 beneath the crowns that form the bridge, they continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.
While the cost of the dental bridge is less initially, it will need to be replaced in the future eventually. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may be more expensive now, but can actually save you money over time. Fortunately, most dental insurance providers will pay for a portion of or even all of the steps involved in the implant process.
Dental Implants in Williamsburg, VA
Both options are preferable to living with the embarrassment and discomfort of missing and damaged teeth. Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants are now widely available and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care.
Dr. Hall of Williamsburg Center Dental Health in Williamsburg, VA is a skilled professional who has been practicing for almost 20 years. For a consultation with Dr. Hall about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call 757.216.9873 or schedule a comprehensive consultation online today!