There are many reasons you might need to have a tooth replaced. Causes such as a cavity, trauma, or the tooth never having grown-in in the first place. When it comes time to have the tooth replaced, there are several options, but when replacing just one tooth versus multiple teeth, the primary options that a person thinks of are a conventional bridge and a dental implant, but what is the difference between these types of dental implants and bridges?
What is a Conventional Bridge?
A conventional bridge replaces a tooth or teeth in the mouth. It does so by supporting itself using the adjacent teeth. Two or more teeth next to the missing tooth or teeth are usually prepared, or ground down, in anticipation for a crown. Attached to each crown is one end of the bridge. In the middle of the bridge is “false” tooth or pontic. For many years, this was the standard of care when it came to replacing a missing tooth when not using a removable denture. Nowadays, you have a better option that is the standard of care— the dental implant.
What is a Dental Implant & How Do They Work?
A dental implant is a titanium device that is placed into the bone permanently. Your jawbone will grow around this device through a process called “osseointegration.” Once the implant is integrated into the bone, it can be used to restore your mouth in a variety of different ways. One of the most common ways for an implant to be used is a single tooth replacement instead of a bridge.
Once the implant is in the bone permanently, an attachment to the implant is placed onto it. This attachment is called an abutment. A crown is custom-made for your implant on this abutment. The crown is then cemented onto your implant, just as a crown would be cemented onto a natural tooth.
Dental Implant vs. Bridges: Why Should I Choose an Implant Over a Bridge?
The choice is ultimately yours, but there are a few things to consider. Dental implants are permanent or nearly permanent. With a 95% success rate and are placed to restore your tooth or teeth for a lifetime.
Bridges are difficult to clean. Due to being attached to adjacent teeth, food and debris from the mouth can get lodged underneath the bridge. This can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, and eventual tooth loss of the adjacent teeth. This is where bridges often need replacement. It is not the bridge, itself, that needs to be repaired, but rather the teeth that are supporting it. Dental bridges last on average 6-10 years.
With a dental implant, you only have to worry about one thing, the dental implant itself. You brush and floss it, just like a normal tooth. It looks like a normal tooth. It acts like a normal tooth. You don’t have to take it out at night as you do with a removable denture, and you don’t have to brush around it and floss under it as you do with a bridge.
If you are missing a tooth or teeth and are interested in having them replaced, there are many different solutions. Bridges and dentures are not your only options anymore. Dental implants are rapidly becoming the standard of care in the treatment of missing teeth. If this sounds like you, come to see us at Arkansas Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons for an evaluation to see what your options may be.