Dental technology has come a long way in the last 30 years. Patients with damaged or missing teeth now have several great methods of replacing those teeth at their disposal. Dental bridges are the more well-established method of filling the gaps in your smile, while dental implants are a newer method that is on the rise in popularity. But what’s the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant? Which treatment option is right for you?
Most dentists including Dr. James Lassiter of Lassiter Family Dentistry prefer implants due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, several factors need to be taken into account when making the decision, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
In the past, a bridge was really the only choice available choice if you were only missing a few teeth. A dental bridge consists of a crown anchored over the gap in your teeth by being attached to crowns fitted over the neighboring teeth. These teeth on either side of the crown must be prepared by removing most of the enamel in order to place the bridge, attaching it to these teeth.
With dental implants, Dr. Lassiter embeds the replacement tooth directly into the bone tissue of the jaw resulting in a tooth that is stronger and does involve altering or placing a strain on the neighboring teeth. However, a dental bridge may be a good option if the neighboring teeth have extensive decay and/or large fillings and will need crowns or caps in the future anyhow.
Bone tissue in the jaw deteriorates without the roots of teeth stimulating it to grow. If you allow a gap to remain in your smile for some time, you may need a bone graft surgery to strengthen the bone tissue enough to support an implant. This will increase the time needed to complete the procedure and the cost. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with Dr. Lassiter at your consultation.
Your Oral Care Routine
Your ability to keep your mouth clean and healthy will be simpler with an implant. Dental bridges are cemented to existing teeth in the mouth and involve at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. This design creates challenges when attempting to brush and floss and the teeth under the crowns are still susceptible to decay, so it’s important to be meticulous when cleaning.
Flossing is particularly difficult with a bridge as you will need to thread the floss under the crown to prevent gum disease from setting in under and around the teeth involved in the bridge. However, implants replace teeth individually. You will be able to brush and floss around an implant just as you would your natural tooth, making oral hygiene much easier and more effective.
Dental implants are more durable than bridges, possibly lasting a lifetime. The metal cylinder or implant screw that is embedded into the jawbone is normally made of titanium or zirconia. This material fuses with your jawbone naturally and is mostly resistant to decay.
If a dental implant is used conscientiously and properly cared for, the implant screw will last decades with only the crown (the false tooth mounted on top) needing to be replaced every 10-15 years due to normal wear and tear. However, they can last longer with proper care.
On the other hand, the average lifespan of a dental bridge, is roughly 10 years and then the entire bridge structure, including crowns will need to be replaced. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth still lives beneath it, these remaining tooth structures continue to be vulnerable to decay and gum disease.
The cost of the dental bridge is less initially, but it will need to be replaced every 10-15 years. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may seem more expensive, but can actually save you money over time. Fortunately, many dental insurance coverages now pay for a portion of or all of the steps involved in the implant process.
Implant treatment is also generally more flexible, allowing patients to save the cost of the procedure in increments. For example, a bone graft may be necessary to reinforce the jawbone to support an implant. This graft typically has to heal for several months before an implant can be placed. This wait inadvertently allows the patient more time to save money for the next phase of the process.
Dental Implants in Kingsland, GA
No matter which option you choose, both are better than being afraid to smile because you are self-conscious or having difficulty chewing due to missing teeth. Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants have become more popular over the years, and for most patients are the preferred method of replacing missing teeth due to their longevity, and ease-of-care.
If you are considering dental implants, you will want to see the best implant dentist possible. Dr. James Lassiter in Kingsland, GA is pursuing advanced training in implant dentistry at the Misch Implant Institute. In many cases, Lassiter Family Dentistry may provide complete surgical and restorative care in our office. For a consultation with Dr. Lassiter about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call 912-208-2565 or schedule an appointment online today!