How to Decide Between a Dental Bridge or a Dental Implant
When a tooth is badly decayed or severely damaged, or a restoration has failed, sometimes the healthiest choice is to have the tooth extracted. These are the most common ways that adults end up with missing teeth.
Tooth extraction can be a very emotional process for two main reasons. First, it’s normal to feel a bit nervous about the actual procedure, though many patients find that an extraction isn’t nearly as intense as they originally anticipated. Second, knowing you’ll have a gap in your smile can be a major blow to your self confidence.
Thankfully, restorative dentistry takes care of the gap so you will once again have a full, healthy smile. Two very common options for replacing a missing tooth or multiple missing teeth include classic dental bridges and modern dental implants.
Here’s how to make the right choice for your smile.
How Porcelain Bridges Work
Porcelain bridges are a classic tooth replacement option for one or more missing teeth. They fill gaps by placing a pontic (prosthetic teeth piece) between the two remaining teeth, both of which are also covered by crowns.
Types of Bridge Restorations
There are two types of bridge restorations available: the classic option most are familiar with and the implant-supported bridge.
Conventional bridges are as described above, with pontics attached to two anchor teeth neighboring the gap. Implant-supported bridges rest on dental implants rather than relying on anchor teeth.
Benefits of Porcelain Bridges
Conventional porcelain bridges are effective and convenient, and the entire procedure is completed in about two appointments. They’re ideal for patients who don’t want oral surgery or who can’t undergo oral surgery for medical reasons. Conventional bridges are also great for individuals who are on a budget.
Implant-supported bridges have similar benefits, with the addition of preserving jawbone health and the implant itself being permanent.
Disadvantages of Porcelain Bridges
However, conventional porcelain bridges have two major disadvantages as well. First, they fill gaps visually but they don’t preserve jawbone health. The bridge will stop teeth from shifting but your jawbone will still shrink with time. Secondly, bridges are more prone to damage and will eventually need to be replaced. The average lifespan of a conventional bridge is anywhere from 5 to 10 years or more.
Implant-supported bridges require oral surgery and a long healing period compared to conventional bridges.
Candidacy for Porcelain Bridges
If you want to avoid oral surgery and you don’t mind replacing your bridge after five years or so, a conventional bridge is a great option.
If you want to replace multiple missing teeth, protect your long-term oral health, and you don’t mind oral surgery, an implant-supported bridge is an even better option.
How Dental Implants Work
Dental implants are a procedure involving a three-piece implant and oral surgery. The implant itself is made of the post, an abutment, and a prosthetic tooth. Individual implants often use a dental crown while other implant restoration may use a bridge (as mentioned above) or a denture.
Dental implant restorations mimic natural teeth because the implant post is surgically placed within the jawbone. This provides the look, feel, and function of a natural tooth to a level other restorations can’t achieve.
Types of Implant Restorations
Conventional dental implants replace a single missing tooth on a single implant post. The prosthetic tooth placed on top is a porcelain dental crown shaped and colored to blend in seamlessly with the rest of your smile.
Aside from implant-supported bridges, another implant restoration option is implant-supported dentures. This procedure allows dentists to fully reconstruct a patient’s smile using minimal dental implants and a beautiful denture affixed to the posts. For an entire arch, you may only need four to eight implant posts.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Dental implants are as close as you can get to natural teeth. The implant post is permanent and will last for life, though the prosthetic chosen may need to be replaced after 10-20 years. Implants support jawbone health and prevent shrinkage from occurring as the implant will be stimulating the jaw just like a tooth root. Additionally, dental implants look and feel like natural teeth, allowing you to chew with stability and confidence.
Implant-supported dentures have these same benefits.
Disadvantages of Dental Implants
Dental implant restorations are more expensive than their alternatives, though. Most insurance plans will offer some coverage, but patients will still pay more out of pocket compared to a dental bridge or conventional denture.
Dental implant restorations also require oral surgery and a healing process. In some cases preliminary treatment, like a bone graft, may be necessary, possibly extending the total period to a year or so.
Candidacy for Dental Implants
If you want to invest in your long-term oral health and you don’t mind the healing period, dental implants are a great choice.
If you want to restore an entire arch of missing teeth but you don’t want to deal with the disadvantages of dentures, implant-supported dentures are an excellent alternative.
Candidacy for any implant restoration also requires being generally healthy without any uncontrolled health conditions.
Find your perfect restoration by booking a consultation at Allred Family Dentistry.
Once you have an idea of whether a bridge or implant is the right choice, the next step is to book a consultation at Allred Family Dentistry. From there you’ll discuss your options with your dentist and find out if you’re a candidate. If it turns out that your original choice isn’t the best one, you’ll be able to determine which alternative will be most beneficial for your oral health.
You can schedule your consultation today by calling your preferred location or using this online form.