There may come a time in your life when you need to have one or more teeth replaced. Knowing the pros and cons of your options will help you make the best decision possible. Both dental implants and bridges have a long and reliable history as teeth replacements, but which is right for you?
What is a Dental Implant?
The underlying structure of a tooth is more complicated than you might realize. When a tooth is removed, the surrounding structure, including bone, ligaments, and nerves slowly begin to deteriorate without a tooth to keep everything in place.
A dental implant is an “anchor” that is surgically inserted into the jawbone that serves as a stable base for an artificial replacement tooth. An implant can replace the lost structure of a natural tooth with a metal post, typically made of titanium, and prevents the bone from shrinking.
Dental Implant Pros and Cons
One of the most significant advantages of dental implants is they place less of a burden on the surrounding teeth while promoting healing of bone structures and surrounding gum tissue. Implants also reduce long-term risks posed to the jaw and are generally a high-quality material that should last you a lifetime.
Pros of an Implant
- No impact on other teeth. Implants can replace teeth individually, and surrounding teeth are not affected.
- Durability. Implants can last 10 to 15 years because the implant’s metal root, typically made of titanium, naturally fuses with your jawbone.
- Prevents bone loss. Missing a tooth can speed up bone loss. An implant serves as a substitute tooth root and helps preserve jaw structure.
Cons of an Implant
- Surgical requirements. Because an implant is inserted into your jawbone, it is a surgical procedure.
- Time. After the implant is placed, the bone will develop around it, which generally takes three to six months. In the second step, a post is attached, and the surrounding gum tissue then needs to heal, which takes several more months. Since everyone heals at a different rate, some people may require a longer recovery time than others.
- Expense. Not all dental plans cover implants, and because it is a multi-step process, it is also more expensive.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is an appliance made of a false tooth suspended between two crowns that the dentist attaches by way of cement to the remaining healthy teeth surrounding a gap. Typically, two teeth on opposite sides of a gap are shaved down to accommodate a bridge. A cap is then placed over each tooth and is accompanied by a dental bridge that covers space left behind from a missing tooth. Unlike a dental implant, the false tooth of a bridge is not embedded in the jawbone and will not preserve the remaining bone structure.
Dental Bridge Pros and Cons
Getting a dental bridge can be a better option if your tooth has been missing for an extensive period. Because the gum tissue and bone have already receded, your jaw may not be able to secure an implant properly. If you lack enough healthy bone to support an implant, you may be able to get a bone graft to enable the jawbone to hold an implant.
Pros of a Dental Bridge
- Permanently placed. A bridge doesn’t have to be removed for cleaning because it’s cemented to your adjacent teeth. You can clean the bridge while cleaning your other teeth.
- Relatively quick procedure time. Getting a bridge can usually be done within two dental visits, although this can vary depending on your oral health.
- Faster adjustment period. Because it’s small and lightweight, a bridge takes less time to get used to compared to other prosthetic options like a denture.
Cons of a Dental Bridge
- More difficult to clean. With a bridge, you must brush and floss under the false tooth. You will likely need to use slightly different materials, such as a floss threader to keep the bridge clean.
- Shorter lifespan. A dental bridge typically lasts about ten years because of the wear and tear on neighboring teeth, which remain susceptible to gum disease and decay. (Their decay means less support for the bridge.)
- Neighboring teeth are impacted. A bridge requires support from the neighboring teeth that are used to hold the artificial tooth in place. If these teeth aren’t strong enough to have crowns, a bridge might not be possible.
Finding The Best Option For You
When it comes to replacing a missing tooth, your dentist can help you decide the best treatment option for you. Whether you choose a bridge or implant, the confidence in your smile can be successfully restored. Contact Hinsdale Dentistry today to discuss which choice is right for you.