Losing one or more natural teeth is distressing, and it’s important to replace them as soon as possible to restore your appearance and to protect your oral health. Choices include a dental bridge supported by your natural teeth or dental implants.
What Is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a restoration permanently cemented onto your natural teeth and can replace one or more missing teeth in the same area of your mouth. It is supported using crowns fitted over the teeth adjacent to the gap, and these are attached to the replacement tooth or teeth, each of which is called a pontic. Usually, it’s necessary to crown one tooth either side of the gap, but if there isn’t sufficient support, a dentist may choose to crown two teeth on the same side or will crown a single tooth. This is called a cantilever bridge.
A Maryland bridge doesn’t rely on dental crowns for support; instead, it has “wings” that are bonded onto the inner surfaces of the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth and which are attached to the pontic. Usually, Maryland bridges are reserved for front teeth as they aren’t particularly strong and are generally not suitable for chewing food. The main advantage of a Maryland bridge is that minimal preparation is needed, so the adjacent teeth remain largely intact.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is a small post surgically inserted into the jawbone where it fuses or osseointegrates with the bone, so it’s becomes firmly anchored in place. Once fused in position, an abutment is attached to the post and can support a dental crown, while multiple implants can support a dental implant bridge or even an implant denture.
What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Choosing a Bridge?
Benefits of choosing a bridge include:
- Dental bridges can look very natural using the most modern porcelains that closely mimic the shades and translucencies found in natural teeth.
- The appliance is firmly cemented in place, so you needn’t worry about removing to clean it.
- A dental bridge can be useful for protecting adjacent teeth if they are decayed or heavily filled, restoring strength and structure to these teeth.
- Dental bridges offer a predictable way to replace missing teeth and should last quite a while before they need replacing.
- Treatment is relatively quick and non-invasive and is typically completed in a few weeks compared with several months for a dental implant.
The drawbacks of choosing a bridge include:
- Adjacent teeth require substantial preparation for crowns that may require us to remove a significant amount of healthy tooth structure. This is undesirable if these teeth are strong and healthy and nicely shaped.
- Removing tooth structure increases the risk of infection and decay in teeth later on, and especially as crowns begin to age and possibly leak.
- Dental bridges can place stress on supporting teeth, potentially increasing the risk of these teeth failing in the future.
- A dental bridge will need replacing periodically and may not last as long as a well-maintained dental implant.
- Dental bridges can be costlier in the long term and especially when used to replace single teeth where it’s generally necessary to have a three-tooth bridge. Replacing a three-tooth bridge is more expensive than replacing a single implant crown.
What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Choosing Dental Implants?
Benefits of choosing dental implants include:
- The treatment has a very high success rate, and dental implants may last for years or life with the correct care.
- Dental implant treatment is versatile, and especially if missing teeth are located in different areas of the mouth and are not adjacent to each other.
- Dental implants are designed to replicate natural tooth roots, providing the stimulation needed to keep the jawbone strong and healthy, preventing bone resorption.
- A single dental implant looks like a real tooth, emerging from the gums in the same way and providing the very best aesthetic results.
- Dental implants are self-supporting, so there is no need to reshape healthy teeth.
- Dental implants help to protect natural teeth, ensuring they cannot shift out of place, affecting their stability and your bite.
- Implant treatment is suitable for most people with reasonable dental and general health.
- Computer guided surgery ensures implant treatment is more comfortable and quicker than ever before and provides an optimal treatment outcome.
Drawbacks of choosing dental implants include:
- Treatment can cost a little more than a dental bridge because it uses advanced techniques and materials and requires extensive training and experience.
- Not everybody is suitable for implant treatment and especially those who may have systemic conditions that affect healing.
Dental implant treatment is the gold standard for replacing missing teeth. If we feel implants would suit you, it’s certainly a treatment that we will recommend here at LuxDen Dental Center. Our dentist, Dr. Leonard Umanoff, is highly trained and experienced in placing dental implants and can determine if dental implants are the right solution for you.
We discuss each possible solution in detail with you so that you can make an informed choice about your oral health.
We prefer to place implants when possible because of the positive impact on your oral health as it protects and preserves your jawbone and your natural teeth. With dental implants, there is no need to grind down healthy teeth, and the implants help to spread the pressure of biting and chewing food more evenly, reducing the risk of your natural teeth chipping or cracking in the future.
Many people are concerned that dental implant treatment takes too long to complete, and they may be without teeth during this time. This will not happen as we can often restore implants soon after insertion and can always provide temporary teeth during the healing period. In the longer term, dental implants can provide you with a long-lasting and high-quality tooth replacement.