Dental Implants or a Bridge? Which is better for you?
Dental Implants or a Bridge? How to replace your missing tooth and why you should.
So you’re missing a tooth, eh? Well, that’s okay! There are solutions. The two I’m bringing up in this article are either dental implants or a bridge. Let’s go into what these are.
Dental Implant: A dental implant is basically, a surgically placed, artificial root (like the root of a tooth). The dental implant is threaded so that it sort of “locks” in place in the jaw bone. After the implant area has healed and the bone around the implant has solidified, we would then put a dental crown onto the implant. This will look like a natural tooth, but it’s usually made from a porcelain material. It’s a much more permanent solution than any other alternative. The benefits of a dental implant are many-fold. First off, as I mentioned, it is much more permanent. An implant can last a whole life time if properly maintained. Secondly, it actually helps keep your jaw bone healthy. That’s right! If you lose a tooth somehow, and that area never gets any type of replacement, the bone where the tooth was last can actually shrink due to lack of usage. When you have an implant in the location it will keep the jaw bone stimulated and promote healthy bone growth. Third, it will look like a natural tooth. That’s pretty self explanatory. Fourth, unlike dentures and some other tooth replacement options, you don’t remove dental implants, so you won’t have to take them out every night.
These are just some of the benefits I could think of off the top of my head.
Bridges: A bridge is quite different. What it is, basically, is a prosthetic tooth, or a series of prosthetic teeth, joined to dental crowns on either end. These dental ends are joined to existing teeth on either side of the gap you are filling in your mouth. It’s usually one solid dental appliance. The fake tooth that is attached to the two crowns is called a “pontic”. The two crown ends of the bridge are called “abutments”. While it does do the job of filling the gap and fixing the aesthetics issue of missing a tooth, it does little else. It will not help prevent bone loss as much as an implant would. It would not be as permanent a solution as dental implants would be, as you usually have to replace them every 10 years or so and, probably most important, the two teeth on either end of the bridge have to be, basically, damaged to receive the crowns. You have to shave down enamel for a crown to be placed on a tooth. The enamel is the protective shell of your teeth. After you remove the enamel of a tooth it becomes much more vulnerable to decay and damage. Removing healthy structure of two teeth in order to solve the problem of a missing tooth is not a route I would chose.
Okay, so that’s what bridges and dental implants are. Now, WHY should you replace a tooth that is missing? Well, for one, it’s probably going to be more aesthetically pleasing. I’ve had the problem of a missing tooth near the front of my smile, and, needless to say, I didn’t smile much because of that fact. The other thing, as I mentioned earlier, when you have a vacant spot along your teeth, the bone where that missing tooth is will start to go away. Teeth on either side can collapse on that empty spot, your bite could be come misaligned as a result, and the shape of your smile, and of your face, can change. That’s after some time, however, but it is important to know that.
Your next step?
If you have some missing teeth in your mouth, I would at least go see your dentist to go over the options. They will help you pick out the right treatment for your case, go over cost, and help you work out getting it done. If dental implants are your solution, then you should ask about the treatment. How long it takes, what the procedure entails, how much it costs, etc. Usually with problems in the mouth, the wrong thing to do is…well, nothing.
Stay healthy my friends.