Choosing between a dental bridge and a dental implant can be a significant decision, as it can impact your oral health, facial aesthetics, and overall quality of life.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a prosthetic device used to fill the gap created by one or more missing teeth. A dental bridge contains two or more crowns surrounding the space of the missing tooth (or teeth), connected by an artificial tooth or teeth in the center.
These supporting teeth, called abutment teeth, serve as anchors for the bridge, while the false tooth, or pontic, fills the gap. Dental bridges are typically made from porcelain, ceramic, alloys, or a combination of these materials.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant, often made of titanium, is a synthetic tooth root surgically implanted into the jawbone to support crowns. An abutment, or connector, is placed at the top of the implant to hold the crown.
Known for their durability and natural look, dental implants function like regular teeth, aiding normal wear and chewing for better food digestion. They also help maintain jawbone health and density, preventing bone loss post-tooth loss.
Benefits and Downsides of Dental Implants vs. Bridges
Though more expensive initially and taking up to 6 months to complete, dental implants can last a lifetime, offering a natural appearance and a high success rate. However, bridges may require replacement every 10 to 15 years, depending on how it has been maintained.
Even though bridges avoid surgery risks and are typically insured, implants are better for long-lasting aesthetics and tooth functionality. However, implants may not be covered by dental insurance, but check with your insurance provider.
Appearance of Dental Bridges and Implants
Though both bridges and implants aim for a natural appearance initially, implants maintain a person’s appearance for longer. Be aware that the condition and alignment of the adjacent teeth can influence the final appearance of both options.
Natural Teeth vs. Artificial Tooth Appearance
Dental bridges may not perfectly match natural teeth, especially if they are discolored or have been restored. Also, they can wear over time, which changes their appearance.
Dental implants are customized to match surrounding teeth and have an artificial crown attached to a surgically inserted titanium post for a seamless, natural appearance.
Adjacent Teeth Impact on Bridge or Implant Placement
The condition of the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth can greatly impact the decision between a bridge or an implant.
In order to ensure the proper placement of a dental bridge, it’s important that the adjacent teeth possess sufficient strength to support the bridge. If these neighboring teeth are weakened, decayed, or have extensive fillings, a dental implant might be a more suitable alternative.
In such cases, the bridge may place undue stress on these teeth, potentially leading to further dental issues.
Dental Bridges and Implants Costs
The costs of dental bridges and implants can vary greatly depending on the type, materials, procedure complexity, and any additional required procedures.
The different types of bridges include traditional bridges, cantilever bridges, and implant-supported bridges. The latter, also known as a 3-4 unit bridge, has one or more false teeth and two anchor crowns that are cemented onto the healthy adjacent teeth, providing stable support for the bridge.
Implant-supported bridges offer a durable solution, but they’re more costly due to the additional procedures that are needed. However, even with the higher upfront costs, they can be more cost-effective long-term because of their longevity and lower maintenance.
Oral Health Factors to Consider When Choosing a Treatment Option
Your oral health is a critical factor to consider when deciding between a dental bridge or implant. Conditions such as gum disease, bone loss, and tooth decay can impact your eligibility for these treatments.
Gum Disease, Bone Loss, and Tooth Decay Impact on Treatment Choice
Treating gum disease (such as periodontal disease) is essential before getting bridges or implants. Infection must be eliminated and gum health restored to provide a stable foundation.
Sufficient bone density is also vital for dental implant placement since the titanium post must integrate with the bone to provide stability. Bone grafting procedures may be required if there is bone loss. A bone graft will stimulate growth and improve bone health, increasing the chance of successful implant placement.
Decayed or damaged adjacent teeth may not support a bridge, and need treatment or extraction first. But, if only one tooth is missing and its neighbors are healthy, an implant may be more suitable.
Proper Care and Maintenance Necessary for Each Option
For longevity and preventing complications, excellent oral hygiene with regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits is vital for both bridges and implants. Regular dental visits are also essential to monitor implant functionality.
For dental bridges, special types of floss or interdental brushes may be needed to clean underneath the false tooth and around the abutment teeth. It’s also important to avoid hard or sticky foods that could damage the bridge.
Types of Dental Bridges Available
There are several types of dental bridges available, and each is suited for a different situation.
Traditional Bridge, Implant-Supported Bridge, Partial Dentures
A Traditional Bridge is the most common type, consisting of a false tooth held in place by dental crowns cemented onto the adjacent teeth. This type of bridge is a good option when there are natural teeth on both sides of the gap.
An Implant-Supported Bridge is a great option when more than one tooth is missing. Instead of being supported by crowns or frameworks, these bridges are supported by dental implants. Typically, one implant is placed for every missing tooth, and it holds the bridge in position. This type of bridge offers stability and durability, making it an excellent choice for those with multiple missing teeth.
Partial Dentures, also known as removable bridges, are used when one or more teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. They are less invasive and typically more affordable than other options, making them a popular choice for patients looking for a cheaper alternative.
Types of Dental Implants Available
There are also different types of dental implants available. The best type for you depends on your specific needs, the number of missing teeth, and the condition of your jawbone.
Endosteal Implants are the most common type. They are placed directly into the jawbone and hold one or more artificial teeth using abutments.
Subperiosteal Implants are placed above the jawbone but under the gum, ideal for patients with insufficient healthy bone who cannot or prefer not to undergo bone grafting.
Why Choose Dr. Gaertner?
Dr. Gaertner at Bliss Dental brings a wealth of experience and expertise in both dental bridge and implant procedures.
His comprehensive approach ensures that each patient receives high-quality dental care, taking into account their oral health, personal preferences, and financial considerations.
Whether you opt for a dental bridge or an implant, you can trust Dr. Gaertner and his team at Bliss Dental to help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.