Patients with missing teeth now have several different tooth replacement options available. If you’re not sure which one is best for you, take some time to understand the differences between dental bridges and dental implants. These two tooth replacement options are similar but have some key differences that make one choice better than the other. Wooddell & Passaro Restorative and Esthetic Dentistry specializes in long-lasting, high-quality treatments to give you your best smile.
Practical Reasons for Both
Dental bridges used to be the only tooth-like replacement option available. With a dental bridge, the adjacent teeth are ground down to their stumps, which then act as the anchors of the bridge. This design means that in order to replace one missing tooth, an additional two teeth must be prepared to support the bridge. A dental implant, on the other hand, is embedded directly into the jawbone and does not affect the neighboring teeth.
Nonetheless, a dental bridge may be your best option if the neighboring teeth have large fillings and need crowns or caps in the future. If the tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone will have receded and procedures beyond the implant, such as bone grafts, will be required before placement. Your dentist will be able to help you decide which treatment is best for your situation.
Your Oral Care Routine
Regardless of whether you have a dental implant or dental bridge, oral care is still important to keep your smile healthy. Your oral care routine will be easier with an implant, because you will still be able to thread dental floss around each tooth. A dental bridge is cemented in the mouth and involves at least three crowns connected together to fill the space left from the missing tooth. This design is more difficult to brush around.
Flossing, in particular, will require an additional step to thread the floss under the false tooth to prevent gum disease from setting in. In contrast, implants replace teeth individually without affecting other teeth. You can brush and floss around an implant as you would your natural tooth, making oral care much easier and more effective.
Dental implants are more durable than bridges, providing protection that lasts a lifetime. The metal cylinder or post that is embedded into the jawbone is normally made of titanium or zirconia and this material fuses with your jawbone naturally. Because it’s made of such strong material, the implant is mostly resistant to decay. If a dental implant is properly cared for, the implant portion will last a lifetime with only the crown needing replacement every 15-20 years due to normal wear and tear. However, they can last longer with proper care.
On the other hand, the average life of a dental bridge is approximately 10 years and the entire bridge will need to be replaced. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth remains beneath it, normal wear may cause the bridge over time as the remaining tooth structures continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.
Cost Comparison: Implants vs. Bridges
The cost of the dental bridge is lower initially, but it will need to be replaced at some point in the future. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may seem more expensive, but can actually save you money over time. Some dental insurance providers cover the cost of some or all of the implant procedure.
Implant treatment is also generally more flexible, allowing patients to budget the cost in increments. For example, a bone graft is sometimes needed to reinforce the jawbone to support an implant. This graft typically has to heal for several months before an implant can be done. This inadvertently allows the patient more time to save for the next phase of the process.
Dental Implants in Davidsonville, MD
Both options are preferable to being afraid to smile because you’re self-conscious or having difficulty chewing. Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants have become more commonplace over the years, and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care. Schedule your appointment with Wooddell & Passaro online today or call our office at (410) 343-7075.