Dental technology has advanced to the point that patients with missing or damaged teeth now have several effective treatment options available to replace their missing teeth and restore the functionality of their smiles. While dental bridges are the long established and currently less expensive option for replacing missing teeth and restoring your smile, dental implants are fast eclipsing them in popularity in recent years. But what is the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant? Which tooth replacement method is right for you?
Most dentists including Dr. Harry W. McCool in Lilburn, GA prefer implants due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, a number of factors need to be considered, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
In the past, a dental bridge was the premier treatment for a missing tooth. A dental bridge replaces the missing tooth with a crown that is held in place by two adjacent teeth which are also crowned in the process. However, this preparation for mounting the crown involves removing most of the enamel from the adjacent teeth in order to attach the bridge that will hold it in place. With dental implants, Dr. McCool will install the base of the implant directly into the jaw bone resulting in a prosthetic tooth that is stronger and permanent.
If the neighboring teeth have numerous fillings or are suffering from severe tooth decay, a dental bridge may be the preferred option since the crowns that will support the bridge (known as abutments in dental terminology) can also restore the damaged teeth. If the missing tooth or teeth were lost some years ago, the gum and bone tissues that once supported them may have eroded and procedures to strengthen these tissues — such as bone grafts- may be necessary before placement. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be elaborated on by Dr. McCool at a consultation.
Your Oral Care Routine
Your ability to perform routine daily oral care will be easier with an implant. Dental bridges are cemented in the mouth, and involve at least three crowns permanently connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. This design can make brushing and flossing difficult, so it is important to be thorough when cleaning.
Flossing can be particularly challenging as it will require an additional step to thread the floss under the false tooth in order to prevent gum disease from getting a foothold. Implants replace teeth individually without altering your neighboring teeth. You can brush and floss around an implant just like you would your natural teeth, making routine oral hygiene much easier and more effective.
Dental implants last their recipients longer than bridges — possibly a lifetime. Due to the fact that the implant screws are made of titanium, they are themselves immune to decay. The titanium naturally bonds with your jaw bone tissue through osseointegration. Although the implant itself is resistant to decay, you must still care for your gums and surrounding teeth or you may still be at risk of implant failure.
On the other hand, the average life of a dental bridge, is only about 10 years at which point the entire bridge will need to be replaced due to normal wear and tear. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth still lives beneath it, the tooth will continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.
The cost of the dental bridge is less initially but, since it will need to be replaced at some point in the future, it may cost more in the long run. Implants – from initial preparation to final placement – are more expensive, but the implant itself will last for decades if properly maintained. Additionally, many dental insurance providers will pay for the crown of your implant to be replaced.
Dental Implants in Lilburn, GA
Whichever option you and your dentist decide is best for you is better than being than living with the embarrassment and difficulty that come with missing teeth. Although bridges are initially more affordable and established tooth restoration methods, dental implants are becoming more and more popular and are often the preferred treatment for replacing missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care.
If you are considering dental implants, you will want to see a trusted dentist in your area for the procedure. Dr. Harry McCool of Lilburn, GA is a skilled professional with over 25 years in practice in the Lilburn area. For a consultation with Dr. McCool about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call (770) 450-4407 or schedule a consultation online today!