There have been many great advances in the science of dentistry in the last 30 years. Patients with missing teeth now have several great options available to help restore their smiles. Dental bridges are the time-tested method of filling the gaps in your smile. Dental implants are a more recent advancement that has rapidly increased in popularity. But which option is right for you? Most dentists including Dr. Byron Desbordes prefer implants due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, there are several factors to consider in the decision, such as if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
A bridge was once the only choice available. However, a bridge involves more teeth than just the missing one. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap need to be prepared by scraping away most of the enamel in order to attach the bridge (a false tooth attached to the two adjacent teeth) to them. With dental implants, the dentist embeds the replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a tooth that is stronger and permanent. Nonetheless, a dental bridge may be a good option for you if your neighboring teeth have large fillings and will need crowns or caps in the future. Also, if the tooth or teeth were lost years ago, there will have been loss of jaw bone tissue and surgeries beyond installation of the implant- such as bone grafts- will be required before implant placement can occur. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with the Dr. Desbordes.
Your Oral Care Routine
Implants are easier to clean. Dental bridges are cemented in the mouth, and involve at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. The nature of this design can make brushing and especially flossing difficult, so it is important to be meticulous when cleaning. Flossing will require the additional step of threading the floss under the crown to prevent decay from setting in. In contrast, implants replace missing teeth individually without affecting adjacent teeth. You can brush and floss around an implant as you would a natural tooth which makes oral hygiene much easier and more effective.
Dental implants are more durable and last longer than bridges, providing protection that lasts decades. The metal cylinder or post that is implanted into the jawbone is normally made of titanium or zirconia and this material fuses with your jaw bone naturally in a process of osseointegration. Because it’s made of such strong material, the implant is mostly resistant to decay. If a dental implant is properly cared for with daily brushing and flossing the implant itself will last a lifetime with only the crown (the false tooth mounted on top) needing replacements every 15-20 years due to normal wear and tear. However, the crowns can last longer with care and avoiding eating extremely hard foods. On the other hand, the average life of a dental bridge, is only about 10 years and it will need to be replaced entirely. Also, since a portion of your natural tooth is still there beneath the bridge, it will continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.
The cost of the dental bridge is less initially but it will definitely need to be replaced at some point in the future. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may seem more expensive, but can actually save you money in the long run. Fortunately, many dental insurance providers now pay for some or all of the implant process. Also, the implant procedure is generally more flexible, allowing patients time to budget and save for the cost in increments. For example, a bone graft may be necessary to reinforce the jawbone to support an implant. This graft usually has to heal for several months before an implant can be done. This inadvertently allows the patient more time to save for the cost of the next phase of the process.
Both options are better than being self-conscious about your smile or having difficulty chewing because you’re missing teeth. Although bridges are an older, established solution, dental implants have become much more common over the years, and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care.
If you are considering dental implants, you should to see the best implant dentist possible in your area. Dr. Byron Desbordes is a skilled professional with over 20 years in practice. For a consultation with Dr. Desbordes about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call (410) 216-4023 or schedule an appointment online today!