Dental technology has advanced enormously in the last 30 years and patients with missing or damaged teeth now have several effective treatment options available to them. While dental bridges are the long established and currently more affordable means of replacing missing teeth and restoring your smile, dental implants are beginning to outpace them in popularity in recent years. But what is the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant and which smile restoration option is right for you?
Most dentists including Dr. Carol and Dr. Robin Thoman of Paradox Dental Center in Indianapolis prefer implants due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, a number of aspects of your case need to be considered when making this choice, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
Dental bridges are the tried and true treatment for a missing tooth. A dental bridge replaces the missing tooth with a crown that is held in the empty space by two neighboring teeth which are also crowned in the process. This preparation for installing it involves removing most of the enamel from the adjacent teeth in order to attach the bridge. However, in the case of dental implants, your dentist will install the implant screw directly into the jaw bone resulting in a stronger and more permanent prosthetic tooth.
If the adjacent teeth already have a number of fillings or are plagued by 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 repair the damaged teeth. If the tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone tissues that once supported them may have deteriorated and procedures to strengthen the tissue — such as bone grafts- may be necessary before placement. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with your Paradox dentist at a consultation.
Your Oral Care Routine
Your ability to perform daily routine dental hygiene will be easier with an implant. Dental bridges involve at least three crowns permanently connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. The structure of this design can make brushing and flossing challenging, so it is important to be meticulous when cleaning.
Flossing can be particularly difficult as the floss must be threaded under the false tooth to remove plaque and bacteria to prevent gum disease from setting in. Implants replace your teeth individually without affecting your neighboring teeth. You can brush and floss around your implant exactly as you would your natural teeth, making routine oral hygiene much easier and more effective.
Dental implants last patients longer than bridges do — 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 in a process called osseointegration, preventing deterioration of the tissue. Although the implant itself is resistant to decay, you must still care for your gums and surrounding teeth or your implant may fail.
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 you more in the long run. From preparation to final placement, implants are more expensive, but the implant screw itself will last for decades if cared for properly. Additionally, many dental insurance providers will pay for the crown of your implant to be replaced every few years.
Dental Implants in Indianapolis, IN
Whichever option you and your dentist decide is best for you is sure to be more pleasant than living with the embarrassment and difficulty that come with missing teeth. Although bridges are initially more affordable and are the more established tooth restoration treatment, 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. The Drs. Thoman of Paradox Dental Center are skilled professionals with both having over 30 years experience in practicing dentistry. For a consultation with Paradox Dental Center about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call (317) 325-8612 or schedule a consultation online today!