Dental technology has come a long way. We’re now at a point at which patients with missing teeth now have several methods available to help them restore the appearance and functionality of their smiles. Dental bridges are a time-tested approach to filling the gaps in your smile. However, the availability and popularity of dental implants has rapidly increased in recent years.
But what are the major differences between a dental bridge and a dental implant? And which procedure is the right one for your smile? Most dentists including the skilled professionals at the Bella Smiles offices on Long Island, NY prefer dental implants due to their durability, longevity and the simplicity of their care. However, a number of factors need to be considered when making this decision, including the condition of your surrounding teeth and if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
While dentures have been the method of choice to replace entire arches of teeth for hundreds of years, bridges were once the only choice available to replace a single tooth or a few teeth. However, a dental bridge affects more than just the empty space in your mouth. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap must be permanently altered by removing most of the outer layer of enamel in order to anchor the bridge. This will be done by attaching it to crowns that will be fitted onto these teeth. However, with dental implants, your Bella Smiles dentist will embed the replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a restoration that is strong and permanent.
A dental bridge may, however, be the right choice for you if the teeth surrounding the gap have large fillings and will need crowns or caps in the future. If the tooth or teeth were lost years ago, the gum and bone tissues will have receded and additional surgeries beyond the implant- such as bone grafts- will be required before placement can occur. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with your Bella Smiles dentist.
Your Oral Care Routine
Oral hygiene is much easier with a dental implant than with a bridge. This is because dental bridges are cemented in the mouth, and are composed of at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. The nature of this design can make properly brushing and flossing more challenging, so it is important to be meticulous when cleaning.
Flossing, in particular, will require the owner of the bridge to thread the floss under where the crowns are connected to prevent gum disease from setting in. But dental implants replace teeth individually without affecting other teeth, allowing you to brush and floss around an implant as you would your natural tooth, making effective oral care much easier.
Dental implants are known for their durability, providing a restoration that can last a lifetime. The implant screw that serves as the root of the prosthetic is a metal cylinder that is normally made from titanium or zirconia which are both resistant to decay and naturally fuse with your jawbone tissue. On the other hand, the average life of a dental bridge is approximately 10 years at which time the entire bridge will most likely need to be replaced. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth remains beneath it, the remaining tooth structure will continue to be at risk of further decay and gum disease.
The cost of the dental bridge is cheaper initially, but it will eventually need to be replaced. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may seem more expensive, but, because it is a one-time expense, having them can actually save you money over time. Fortunately, most dental insurance providers now pay for a portion of or all of the steps involved in the implant process.
Dental Implants on Long Island, NY
Both methods are better than feeling self-conscious about smiling or having difficulty chewing. Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants have become more commonly available over the years, and in most cases are the best method of treatment for replacing missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care.