Dental Bridge or Implant: Which Is Right for You?

cross section of dental implant

Don’t let gaps in your smile hold you back. With dental implants or bridges, a cosmetic dentist can restore your missing teeth with synthetic versions that look completely natural. Both implants and bridges are excellent choices for many patients with edentulism, but for certain people, one choice is better than the other. Talk to a cosmetic dentist to find out which is best for you.

Dental bridges and implants: what do they do?

Dental implants and bridges both replace missing teeth, but the similarity ends there. Dental implants are surgically placed within the jawbone. As the bone fuses to the implant, it securely anchors the tooth replacement in place. The implant is capped by a crown.

Dental bridges do not usually involve surgery. With a traditional bridge, the cosmetic dentist secures a crown to the existing teeth on either side of the gap. These crowns hold a pontic in place between them. The pontic is the artificial tooth that fills the gap.

Dental implants are a permanent solution

One of the many benefits of dental implants is that they are a permanent restoration. Implants are not removable, and they are cared for just like any natural tooth. Of course, it’s possible for an implant to fail, in which case it will require removal and replacement. In most cases, implants fail because the patient is a smoker and/or didn’t maintain proper oral hygiene. But when they are taken care of properly, dental implants can last a lifetime.

Bridges may be fixed in place or removable. Their lifespan also depends on how well they are taken care of. In general, however, a removable bridge may last five to eight years before it needs to be replaced. A fixed bridge, which the patient cannot remove and replace from the mouth, may last about 10 years or longer.

Adjacent teeth

Since dental bridges are held in place by the adjacent teeth, it’s necessary for the patient to have strong, healthy teeth to serve as the anchors. Patients who are missing multiple teeth in the same area, those with severely compromised jawbone mass, and those with unhealthy adjacent teeth will likely not be good candidates for a fixed bridge. Instead, a removable bridge may be used.

When choosing between dental implants and bridges, it’s important to keep in mind that implants are “stand-alone” prostheses—they do not place any strain on the neighboring teeth. Dental bridges do, and as a result, the health of the adjacent teeth may begin to suffer over time.

Bone mass

Another point to consider is the health of the underlying bone mass. Patients who have not had missing teeth for long and who are not smokers will have healthier, denser bone mass. This is ideal for placing dental implants. If there isn’t enough bone mass to anchor the implant, the patient may need to choose dental bridges or have a bone graft surgery, followed by implant placement.

It can be difficult to make healthcare decisions, which is why Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot take the time to thoroughly explain the available options to each patient who needs restorative treatment. Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry is a leading provider of dental implants and bridges in Suffolk County. Call today to request a consultation at our Long Island office.

More “dental bridges vs. implants” resources:

  1. Colgate, Dental Bridge vs. Implant: Which Is Right for You? http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/life-stages/adult-oral-care/article/dental-bridge-vs-implant-which-is-right-for-you-1015
  2. American Dental Association, Tooth Replacement Options, https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/ADA_PatientSmart_Tooth_Replacement.pdf?la=en

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Jacky Gale

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