Dental technology has advanced greatly 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 less expensive means of replacing missing teeth and restoring your smile, dental implants are fast eclipsing them in popularity in recent years. But what is the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant? Which tooth replacement option is right for you?
Most dentists including Dr. Richard W. Van Gurp of Van Gurp General, Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry in Charlotte, NC prefer implants due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, a number of factors need to be considered, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
In the past, a dental bridge was the go-to treatment for a missing tooth. A dental bridge replaces the missing tooth with a crown that is held in place by two adjacent teeth which are also crowned in the process. This preparation for mounting it involves removing most of the enamel from the adjacent teeth in order to attach the bridge. However, in the case of dental implants, Dr. Van Gurp will embed the base of the implant directly into the jaw bone resulting in a prosthetic tooth that is stronger and permanent.
If the neighboring teeth have numerous fillings or are suffering from 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 that once supported them may have eroded 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 elaborated on by Dr. Van Gurp at a consultation.
Your Oral Care Routine
Your ability to perform routine daily hygiene will be easier with an implant. Dental bridges are cemented in the mouth, and involve at least three crowns permanently connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. The nature of this design can make brushing and flossing difficult, so it is important to be meticulous when cleaning.
Flossing can be particularly difficult as it will require an additional step to thread the floss under the false tooth to prevent gum disease from setting in. Implants replace teeth individually without affecting your neighboring teeth. You can brush and floss around an implant exactly as you would your natural teeth, making routine oral hygiene much easier and more effective.
Dental implants last their recipients longer than bridges — 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. Although the implant itself is resistant to decay, you must still care for your gums and surrounding teeth or you may still be at risk of implant failure.
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 more in the long run. Implants – from preparation to final placement – are more expensive, but the implant itself will last for decades if properly maintained. Additionally, many dental insurance providers will pay for the crown of your implant to be replaced.
Dental Implants in Charlotte, NC
Whichever option you and your dentist decide is best for you is better than living with the embarrassment and difficulty that come with missing teeth. Although bridges are initially more affordable and established tooth restoration method, 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. Dr. Van Gurp of Van Gurp General, Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry in Charlotte, NC is a skilled professional with over 30 years in practice. For a consultation with Dr. Van Gurp about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call (704) 209-9606 or schedule a consultation online today!