Do I Need a Dental Bridge or Implant for My Missing Tooth?

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Teeth replacements have improved greatly throughout the years. Extracted or missing teeth can cause you to worry about infection not to mention be self-conscious about your appearance. But you can avoid this with the proper replacement. Two specific types of teeth replacement options are the dental bridge and the implant. So, which option is the better choice for you?

Dental Bridge vs Implant for Missing Tooth

Let’s take a closer look at both options to see which option is best for your missing tooth replacement.

Dental Bridge

When you have a missing tooth and you still have teeth on either side of the now empty space, a bridge is a good option. The dentist cements the bridge in your mouth and it doesn’t come out, therefore its a fixed solution.

Advantages of Dental Bridges

A few advantages of dental bridges are:

  • Faster healing
  • Better option if you need crowns on surrounding teeth
  • Less invasive procedure

Disadvantages of Dental Bridges

Some disadvantages of a bridge are the dentist has to cut your teeth down, even if they’re completely healthy. Also, since your jaw flexes, some bridges fixed to the lower jaw don’t last as long because they’re unbendable and may spring a leak allowing bacteria or decay to seep in.

But, a bridge may be a good option if your adjacent teeth are missing or if you’ve had crowns or a root canal on the adjacent teeth.

Dental Implant

If you’ve lost a tooth or several teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury or other reasons, a dental implant may be the best choice. Around three million individuals each year in the U.S. receive implants, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

Implants act as a tooth root through titanium posts that support a crown.

Advantages of Dental Implants

Advantages of dental implants are:

  • Natural looking
  • A long-term solution
  • No work is required on adjoining teeth

Disadvantages of Dental Implants

A few disadvantages of implants are:

  • You will require oral surgery
  • Implants are more expensive
  • The crown will need replacement eventually

Your health is far more important than your age for the implant procedure to be successful. Not everyone is a good candidate for implants. For instance, an implant may not be suitable for you if you smoke, have diabetes or have a weakened immune system.

If you grind your teeth while you sleep, an implant may not be a good idea. Children also aren’t good candidates for implants because their jawbones haven’t matured yet.

Dental Bridge Treatment

A fitted dental bridge generally requires a couple of visits to your dentist. During your first visit, your dentist creates a mold of your affected teeth. During the next one or two visits they’ll fit your permanent bridge. How the dentist fits the bridge will depend on the type of bridge you get. For traditional or cantilever bridges, the dentist cements the bridge to your natural teeth they prepared beforehand. For a Maryland bridge, the dentist fixes the bridge with metal wings or porcelain.

Dental Implant Treatment

The implant procedure is generally an outpatient procedure. The dentist:

  1. Removes your damaged tooth
  2. Prepares your jawbone for surgery (could involve bone grafting)
  3. Places the metal post of the implant in your jawbone once its healed properly
  4. Have you recover for the next few months for the healing process
  5. Places the abutment once you’ve healed
  6. Takes molds of your jawbone and teeth once your soft tissue heals
  7. Places your final teeth or tooth

As you can see, the implant process is a lot lengthier than the bridge. A lot of the time you devote to healing and waiting for new bone growth in your jaw.

Costs of Each

When it comes to teeth replacements, a huge factor many people consider is the cost of the procedure. Cost can be a big deciding factor too when trying to decide on getting a dental bridge vs implant.

Estimates for implants include:

  • The implant itself
  • Crown
  • A clean abutment

All of these usually run a patient around $4,000 or more.

The implant itself isn’t the procedure’s most expensive part — the crown is. Regardless if the dentist is applying the crown to the root of your natural tooth or to the implant, the price and procedure are substantially the same. But, crowns that the dentist applies to an implant may not be covered by some insurance policies, so you’ll want to check with your insurance company before you make the decision of an implant.

Traditional three-unit bridges for replacing one missing tooth can range you anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 or more.

Remember, although most dental insurance plans tend to cover bridges, implants are usually not covered. If you don’t have dental insurance, there are still discount dental plans out there that can help provide you with discounted rates to make these procedures more affordable.

Aftercare of Each

Implants make it a bit easier to keep a healthy mouth. Since a bridge is fixed into your mouth and involves at least a few crowns the dentist connects together to fill the missing tooth space, this can make brushing and flossing more difficult. Because of this, you’ll need more meticulous oral hygiene home care.

Implants, however, replace each tooth individually and don’t affect your other teeth. This makes home care easier. You just brush and floss around your implant like you would your natural tooth.

Your teeth and jawbone are supposed to function in a certain way. It’s a complex, but remarkable interaction. When you lose a tooth or several teeth, it lessens this function, so it’s essential you preserve your teeth by replacing missing teeth as quickly as possible.

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