According to the American College of Prosthodontists, approximately 178 million Americans have lost at least one tooth. If you are one of them, you may have already discovered that even one missing tooth can affect the way you speak and eat, as well as undermine your confidence. What you may not know is that if ignored, teeth surrounding the gap will begin to shift toward the open space, shrinking the jawbone and leading to misaligned teeth and eventually, bone loss. There are two primary options available to replace a missing tooth: traditional bridgework or a dental implant.
Definition of Dental Bridge and Dental Implant
You may need a bridge or an implant if you have already lost a tooth, or have been told you need a tooth extraction. It is important to know the definition of the two options before you can assess which solution is right for you.
Dental bridge. A dental bridge is an artificial or false tooth held in place by the natural teeth next to the missing tooth. Dental bridges, thus, bridge the gap between the remaining teeth. There are different types of bridges, i.e, traditional, cantilever, and Maryland, that are selected based on the patients’ needs. A bridge is a permanent fixture, and with proper care and regular dental check-ups, it can last for many years.
Dental implant. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root, usually made from titanium, that is placed (implanted) into the jaw. The implant is mounted into your jawbone using screws to hold a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge, or denture in place. Dental implants allow bone to grow around the implant. They are very durable, and with proper care and regular dental check-ups, the implant can last a lifetime.
Bridgework vs Implant – Factors to Consider
Now that you know your basic options, how do you determine which one is right for you? Is an implant better than a bridge, or the other way around? Although your dentist will provide you with key information in helping you decide, there are personal, medical, and financial factors you should consider before you sit down to discuss the procedure.
Personal and medical considerations. The process for the installation of a bridge and implant is different, and many people base their decision on their anticipated tolerance of the process. Implants require surgery, whereas, bridges do not. If you smoke, dental bridges may be your best option. If you have a chronic health condition, check with your medical provider to determine if you are a candidate for an implant or bridgework.
Dental hygiene. Both options last for many years, however, bridges require more diligence to protect your dental health. Ice, very hard foods, and sticky candy can dislodge your dental bridge and should be avoided. Daily flossing and regular dental checkups are critical to ensure lasting, healthy dental appliances.
Financial. Contact your dental insurance provider to determine whether the policy covers a dental bridge or implant. Some companies may view implants as cosmetic and will not cover the procedure, but may cover a portion of a bridge. Create a preliminary dental budget, assuming several thousand dollars in expenses, to plan for financing.
Comparison Between a Dental Bridge and Dental Implant
Number of visits and length of time for process
|Two or more visits|
Six months or longer
Includes implant insertion, bone growth and healing, abutment placement, and artificial tooth placement.
A temporary bridge is often installed on the first visit, then replaced with the permanent fixture.
Is surgery required?
|Yes. Surgery is required, and sometimes, multiple surgeries are needed.||No.|
Impact to nearby teeth
Implants provide easier access between teeth for ease in flossing and brushing.
|Adjoining teeth are drilled and altered for crown installation.|
Without proper care, cavities and/or tooth decay in surrounding teeth is possible.
Dental eligibility requirements and contraindications
|Good general and oral health|
Adequate jaw bone density
Teeth clenching, smoking, chronic diseases, and close proximity to sinus cavity or nerve could all be reasons for ineligibility.
|Two strong, healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth |
Smokers may be eligible
Patients with certain chronic health conditions may be eligible
|How long will the dental fixture last?||Lifetime, when installed in an adult.||At least 10 years|
Multiple decades, with diligence and good dental hygiene
Schedule a Consultation with the #1 Rated Dentists in Santa Clarita
Contact one of the top dentists in Santa Clarita at Aesthetic Dental & Specialty Center to assess the benefits of a dental bridge or implant. We offer personal, innovative, and state-of-the-art care. We will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan for you based on your dental needs, resources, and personal preferences.
Let us give you back your smile and self-esteem! Schedule your appointment online or call our Santa Clarita dental office today at (661) 290-2825.
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Whether you need general dentistry services or you have more complex dental needs, our expert dental team serves patients of all ages, and we accept most dental insurance.
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