Replacing missing teeth is not a new concept in dentistry. People have been using some form of prosthetic teeth for decades and even centuries. However, in the last 30 years, modern dental technology has taken restorative dentistry to new heights. Patients have more options for replacing missing teeth than ever before, which includes a more preferred and popular method using dental implants.
If you have one missing tooth, you have two basic options for replacement: a dental bridge or a dental implant. A dental bridge involves a prosthetic tooth that is anchored on each side to its neighboring teeth, essentially “bridging the gap” in your smile. Bridges can be fixed or removable, but they typically require that the supportive teeth be crowned to ensure they are strong enough to support the prosthetic tooth.
A dental implant, on the other hand, does not require that any of your healthy teeth be touched. Instead, an implant (titanium post) is surgically implanted into your jawbone. Over time, the implant fuses to the surrounding bone and forms an artificial tooth root that anchors the implant restoration, or crown, on top. Dentists often recommend an implant for superior stability, longevity and ease of care. However, many factors must be considered to determine which option is right for you. Here are some questions that may help guide you.
- What is the condition of your adjacent teeth?
A bridge involves preparing the adjacent teeth on either side of the gap for a dental crown. This means that the enamel needs to be shaved down first. If these teeth already have large fillings, they may need to be crowned in the future anyways and a dental bridge may be your best option. However, a dental implant should be considered if you want to avoid any dental work on the adjacent teeth.
- How long ago did you lose your tooth?
When a tooth falls out or is removed, the underlying jawbone no longer receives adequate stimulation when you chew and bite. This causes the bone to resorb or shrink over time. If you lost your tooth several years ago, there is a good chance you already have significant bone loss. Therefore, a bone grafting procedure may be required before you can get a dental implant.
- Are you willing to be patient with the process?
A dental implant is the superior option in tooth replacement. However, it does require more upfront time and cost. Getting a dental implant involves an oral surgery as well as several weeks of recovery as we wait for the implant to heal. The result is almost always worth it for patients who want the most stable and life-like restoration.
- Do you have extra time to spend on oral care?
While you can certainly retain a clean and healthy mouth with a dental bridge, it may require extra effort. Dental bridges are cemented in the mouth and comprised of at least three crowns linked together to fill in the space of the missing tooth. This model or design can make brushing and flossing more challenging, as you’ll have to get until the prosthetic tooth. With dental implants, however, you can use the same techniques and effort that you do with your natural teeth.
- How long do you want your new tooth to last?
In general, dental implants can last a lifetime if properly cared for. The crown may need to be replaced after 15-20 years, but the titanium implant can remain strong and sufficient for life.
Conversely, the average lifespan of a dental bridge is about 10 years. At that time, the entire bridge will likely need replacement.
Still not sure which option is best for you? At Gainesville Dental Group, we offer top quality bridges as well as dental implants. We are more than happy to go over the pros and cons of each as it pertains to your unique case. Call our office today to schedule your consult.
Posted on behalf of Gainesville Dental Group