Dental Implants vs. Dental Bridges
Tooth loss is never a fun prospect, but it is something many of us will need to face sooner or later. When it happens, it is crucial to think about how you would like to replace missing teeth and to consider all available options very carefully. Two of the most frequently used choices for tooth loss are dental implants and dental bridges.
What is a Dental Bridge?
Traditional dental bridges are tooth-supported, meaning the teeth adjacent to the gap in your mouth must be substantially ground down and re-shaped so they can be covered up entirely with dental crowns. The crowns are attached to replacement teeth, each of which is called a pontic. Usually, a tooth-supported bridge is held in place with crowns covering one tooth either side of the gap, although it is sometimes possible to only crown the tooth on one side and which is called a cantilever bridge. Cantilever bridges are not quite as strong and stable, and so tend only to be used in specific circumstances such as replacing front teeth. If extra stability is needed, sometimes two teeth on one side of the gap are crowned and used to support a cantilever bridge.
Why Choose a Dental Bridge?
A traditional tooth-supported dental bridge is a quick and relatively non-invasive solution for tooth loss and can replace one or more teeth that were originally adjacent to each other. It can be an excellent choice for someone who doesn’t wish to have oral surgery of any form, even though the surgical procedure needed for dental implants is quick and surprisingly comfortable. A dental bridge is also a good option if the teeth that will be crowned for the bridge are not in the best shape, perhaps because they are heavily decayed or filled. Protecting damaged teeth with a full dental crown can help preserve them against further damage or decay. Teeth that are discolored, worn, or chipped might also benefit from being covered up with a crown.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are very different and are entirely self-supporting and don’t rely on the adjacent teeth in any way. Instead of using natural teeth as support, a dental implant is designed to replace a real tooth root, using a small post that is surgically inserted into the jawbone. The post is usually made from medical-grade titanium alloy, or from an extremely strong ceramic material called zirconia. Both these materials have excellent biocompatibility which is essential because the bone around them will gradually begin to bond or fuse to the implant post. Over several months, the post is slowly integrated with the jawbone, resulting in a structure that is strong and stable enough to support a brand-new tooth. Treatment is versatile, as dental implants can support single or multiple missing teeth. They can even support large-span bridges, replacing an entire arch of teeth, all without negatively affecting existing natural teeth in any way.
Why Choose Dental Implants?
Dental implants are an excellent solution because they are self-supporting and do not negatively affect the adjacent teeth in any way. There is no need for your dentist to cut down existing teeth, potentially removing perfectly healthy, strong tooth structure. It is an important point because once removed, your tooth structure will not regrow and must always be replaced artificially. When teeth are crowned, it also increases the risk of tooth infection and decay in the future because eventually, these crowns may begin to leak and to fit less securely, letting in disease-causing bacteria.
Dental implants can have a protective effect, preventing adjacent teeth from shifting position which could potentially destabilize them and affect your bite. They help to prevent excess wear and tear on your existing natural teeth by spreading the forces created whenever you bite or chew food. Also, dental implants help to reduce jawbone loss that occurs after natural teeth are removed. Because a dental implant artificially replaces the tooth root, the bone surrounding it continues to receive a similar level of stimulation, ensuring old bone cells are renewed as they die off. This stimulation cannot occur if you have a dental bridge and where the pontic or replacement tooth merely rests on the gums. It is an especially crucial factor when multiple teeth are missing and where bone loss is more substantial and can affect facial dimensions and overall facial appearance. Dr. Schmidt adds that dental implants can last a lifetime with proper care.
What about Caring for Dental Implants or Dental Bridges?
Single dental implants are incredibly easy to care for because you can simply brush and floss them just like you would your real teeth. Dental bridges require a little more care because you must clean underneath the pontic, as well as around the teeth that have been crowned.
When correctly planned, dental implants can look amazing, and especially when replacing single teeth. If you look at your real teeth, you will see they emerge from your gums, and a dental implant tooth will do exactly the same, restoring your appearance, so your teeth look as good as or even better than before. With a dental bridge, the replacement tooth merely rests on the gums rather than emerging from them. Although a dental bridge can look good, the overall appearance isn’t quite as natural.
How to Decide Which Solution Will Suit You Best?
Deciding how to replace your teeth is a big decision, and it’s something we can help you with here at Sterling Dental. Our dentist, Dr. Sterling Rehl has extensive experience in restoring teeth using dental bridges and dental implants. He can examine your mouth and will assess your dental health and oral health before recommending solutions he feels are ideally suited to your needs. Dental implants are the most modern option and can provide you with replacement teeth that look and feel wonderful and which should last for a long time to come. In the longer term, dental implants can be more economical than opting for a dental bridge, and especially when replacing just a single tooth. Dental implant treatment is something that is suitable for most people, and it’s well worth considering. However, there may be certain circumstances where a dental bridge is a preferable solution.
Whatever you do, please don’t let any dental fears or phobias stand in the way of getting the treatment you truly desire. We know many people often feel a bit nervous about having any form of oral surgery, but please remember Sterling Dental can provide sedation dentistry which may be the perfect way to receive your dental treatment.