There are two excellent treatment options to choose from when you lose a tooth. Both the bridge and the dental implant are long-lasting solutions that look like natural teeth, so no one will know that you’ve had a tooth replaced. We’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both methods here. Then you’ll work with Dr. Root to decide on which option is best for you.
The Dental Bridge
Dental bridges are constructed in one piece as shown in the illustration to the right. The two teeth on either side of the missing tooth are prepared to receive crowns, and a false tooth is suspended between them. The illustration shows how the false tooth is suspended between the crowns. The crowns and false tooth will have all the beauty and translucency of your natural teeth, and, with regular care, they can last for many years.
A dental bridge is faster and easier than a dental implant. Although the prosthesis requires that two teeth be prepared to receive crowns, placement can usually be completed in two appointments. In addition, there is no need for surgery or the associated healing time, which can take several months.
The disadvantages of a bridge are, first, that it is more aggressive. Especially if the adjacent teeth have nothing wrong with them, we hate to have to prepare them for crowns. Second, it complicates future treatment. If either of the abutment teeth develops a problem later on, the entire bridge may need to be replaced.
The Dental Implant
A dental implant is a titanium root form that is surgically placed in the jawbone. During recovery, the body brings more bone-building minerals to the site, integrating the root form and making it part of the jawbone. A single crown is then prepared and placed on the root form. The illustration to the right shows the implant replacing the tooth root as well as the crown.
As you can see, the implant involves only the lost tooth and does not require that two adjacent teeth be prepared for crowns, so it will not exert pressure on those teeth the way a bridge does. If the adjacent teeth are in good condition, this will be one of the factors you and Dr. Root take into consideration when making your decision about treatment options.
In addition, the presence of an implant will keep the bone beneath it strong and healthy, stopping the process of bone loss that begins when we lose a tooth. This will prevent the sunken appearance in the gum line that can develop without a tooth root in place.
And finally, dental implants can be used to replace one or many teeth. In fact, they can anchor an entire upper or lower arch of dentures, solving many of the problems people encounter with dentures.
If the teeth on either side of the missing tooth are badly broken down and need crowns anyway, a dental bridge may make the most sense. It will certainly be the less expensive option. However, if those teeth are healthy, we would definitely lean toward recommending a dental implant.
Learn more about your choices by exploring our Dental Implants page. And when you’re ready to find out how a bridge or implant can restore your beautiful smile, give us a call or click here to complete our Request an Appointment page. We are here to help you find an appointment time that really works for you.