Dental Bridges vs. Dental Implants: The Differences Between the Two Tooth Replacement Options

If you need a tooth replaced, bridges and implants are both excellent options available here at our West Bloomfield dental office. When it really comes down to deciding on dental bridges vs. dental implants, however, we recommend that you consider implants.

Bridges are definitely a valid treatment option you shouldn’t overlook, but implants will give your smile a longer life, which is a better investment in the long run.

The decision between implants and bridges will ultimately be based on your preference along with what’s most ideal in your case.

UNDERSTANDING THE PROCEDURES

Before we get into how you can decide on a dental bridge vs. dental implant, let us explain the basics about the two options.

DENTAL BRIDGES

Dental bridges involve filling a space with a fake tooth, called a pontic, by supporting it with crowns that would be placed on top of the teeth in front of and behind the pontic. All of these elements would be combined into one piece, which cannot be removed. Dental bridges are typically ideal only for one or two missing teeth, as longer bridges might not be as stable.

In order to place the bridge, some of the natural teeth in front of and behind the gap might need to be modified slightly to make room for the crowns that would be placed over them.

As for maintenance, you would brush dental bridges like you would your other teeth, but you might have to use special floss to get under the device. With proper maintenance, dental bridges can last for many years. However, many studies have shown the average dental bridge only lasts about 7 years. If this is the case, you would be in need of additional tooth replacement at this time.

When you factor in this cost, a dental implant may be more economical in the long run.

DENTAL IMPLANTS

Dental implants involve placing a titanium screw into the bone where the root of that missing tooth should be. After a few months of healing, the dental implant will be integrated and ready for a new crown on top.

Implants take a few appointments over a number of months while you are waiting for the bone to secure the implant in place. When the implant is ready for a crown you will return to Dr. Fienman, who will reopen the gum, place a cap over the implant, and take an impression of the area. We will use this impression to create a crown that will be attached to the implant.

Other than special care in flossing this tooth, you would maintain it just like your other teeth. With proper care and barring any injuries or trauma, it would last indefinitely.

DECIDING BETWEEN DENTAL BRIDGES VS. DENTAL IMPLANTS

Deciding on the best tooth-replacement option for you will likely come down to the following factors:

  • The quality of the teeth in front of and behind the missing tooth
  • How long you are willing to wait for results
  • Your current budget

TOOTH QUALITY

If you are considering a dental bridge, you must have strong natural teeth that can be used to support the pontic. If you’re missing an entire section of teeth and do not want implants, full or partial dentures may be a better option for you.

The quality of the teeth surrounding the area is not of concern if you choose dental implants, as they can stand alone. Dental implants rely on the quantity and quality of bone in the area of the proposed placement.

JAWBONE DETERIORATION

After you lose teeth, your jawbone might lose some of its structure. In other words, it might shrink and need to be filled before an implant can be placed. If that’s the case, we can add grafting material under the gum in and around the area. This grafting material would essentially act as a base to support an implant.

Some dentists are willing to complete bridges without bone grafts. However, whenever we extract a tooth here at our office, we’re concerned about jaw deterioration and always recommend bone grafts when extracting teeth, whether you’re getting a dental bridge or implant.

When the bone in your jaw deteriorates, it can cause your teeth to shift and your cheek to sag. To prevent these effects, it’s important to get missing teeth replaced as soon as possible.

THE TIME

Dental implants are considered the most durable, longest-lasting, most natural-feeling tooth replacement options today, but there are tradeoffs for everything. Dental implants procedures may take several months from start to finish, and you may need multiple appointments. The reason for this is that bone grows slowly and needs time to grow and stabilize your new implant before it is safe to chew on it. If you rush things and overload the implant before it is stable, it may fail.

(Some dentists offer one-day implants, which are only ideal for certain patients, require sedation, and may be more expensive than other solutions. This procedure can be convenient for patients who need several dental implants. Ask us for guidance if you are considering this option.)

THE SMART INVESTMENT

When it comes to implants, investing in your teeth is also an investment into your quality of life, your smile, your laugh, and everyday functions such as eating and speaking.

Many insurance companies now cover costs for dental implants too. They may contribute to the total cost of implants as well as bridges.

You’d be surprised at how economically comparable implants are vs. dental bridges now. If implants are right for you, they’re definitely worth the investment!

For more information about any of these dental procedures, make an appointment to see Dr. Fienman by sending us a message online or by calling our office, located on Maple Road in West Bloomfield.

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