If you’re one of the 125 million Americans with missing teeth, there are several tooth replacement options available. Two of the most common treatments are implants and bridges. While both are beneficial to your oral health and can improve your smile and self-confidence, each has a different treatment approach and process. To help you determine which solution is best for your needs, let’s explore each treatment option in detail.
Bridges are composed of artificial teeth supported by a dental crown on either end. The crowns attach to your natural teeth on either side of the missing tooth to create a bridge across the gap area. To accommodate the bridge, the remaining healthy teeth surrounding the empty space are shaved down. A cap is then placed over each tooth and is accompanied by the bridge. Patients considering a bridge must be in good oral and general health and have healthy teeth and strong roots on either side of the gap area.
An implant is a titanium post that is surgically attached to the bone of the jaw just like a natural tooth root. The implant fuses to the jawbone over several months to ensure it’s anchored. After the fusion, an abutment is attached to the post frame and a dental crown is cemented on the surface. Implant patients should be in good oral health and wellness and have solid bone density and healthy gums to support and anchor the implants effectively.
Note: Gum disease or cavities must be resolved before any treatment can begin, as existing infections can decrease success and prolong recovery. Before proceeding, your periodontist will thoroughly assess your restoration needs and evaluate your overall health.
Dental Restoration Considerations
While bridges and implants are both fixed restorations that treat missing or extracted teeth, there are some key differences that should be considered as you make your decision.
Implants are surgically attached to your bone, without compromising the health of neighboring teeth. As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks, such as infection, tooth and nerve damage, and jaw fractures.
Bridges do not require surgery, but the natural teeth that rest on either side of the vacant space must be filed down in order for the bridge structure to adhere
A bridge can be installed in a matter of a few weeks, requiring two or three visits.
An implant’s surgical procedure and recovery can take several months.
While you can’t get tooth decay with an implant, you can still get gum disease. Keep the area clean by following your regular oral healthcare routine, paying particular attention to flossing under the false tooth.
Bridges are more difficult to keep clean because the bridge teeth are fused together, and food can get trapped between the bridge and gums. Extra oral hygiene instruction and meticulous at-home care are crucial to keeping it clean.
Bridges can sometimes have a gap between the gum and the bridge, affecting the natural look of the restoration.
Implants have a more natural appearance, as the restoration is seamlessly attached to the gums.
A bridge usually lasts 5-7 years due to more wear and tear on the natural teeth and bone. Over time, these teeth may decay or lose bone around them.
A dental implant can last a lifetime as the abutment head is machined to hold onto crowns very well. These metal abutments cannot decay like natural teeth.
Bridges are generally more affordable than implants, but need to be replaced more frequently.
Implants tend to cost more than bridges, but because of their durability, easy maintenance and longevity, they may be of a greater value in the long run.
Which Dental Treatment is Right for You?
What works best for you will depend on your unique situation. Everything from your access to insurance or affordable dental care, to the state of your oral health, will ultimately determine whether you need a bridge or an implant.
Periodontal and Implant Dentistry in Bedford, Merrimack, and Amherst, NH
Finding a quality tooth replacement that’s right for you is the key to a healthy, confident, beautiful smile. If you need to replace a missing tooth or teeth, we can help you determine the right course of action for your restoration. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We proudly serve the Greater Manchester area, including the towns of Bedford, Merrimack, and Amherst.