There have been amazing leaps in dental technology in the last 30 years. Patients with missing teeth now have a variety of choices available to restore their smiles. Dental bridges are a long established option for filling the gaps in your smile while dental implants are a newer method that is increasing in popularity.
But what is the difference between a dental bridge and an implant? Which procedure is right for your dental needs? Most dentists, including the skilled professionals of Lost Mountain Dental at Due West in Marietta, GA prefer implants due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, many factors must be considered to determine which options is right for you, such as if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
In the past, a bridge was the only choice available to fill in a gap in your smile. A bridge involves more than just the missing tooth, however. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap must support the bridge which means most of the enamel needs to be removed in order to place the bridge. With dental implants, your Lost Mountain dentist embeds the replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a tooth that is stronger and permanent.
Nonetheless, a dental bridge may be your best option if the neighboring teeth already have large fillings and may require crowns or caps in the future. If the missing tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone tissues will have receded and procedures beyond the implant — such as bone grafts — must occur before the implant procedure can even begin. The advantages and disadvantages of both treatments can ultimately be discussed with your dentist.
Your Oral Care Routine
Your ability to keep your teeth clean and healthy will be simpler with a dental implant. This is because dental bridges are cemented in the mouth, and are comprised of at least three crowns linked together to fill in the space of the missing tooth. The nature of this design can make brushing and flossing properly around the bridge challenging, so it is important to be meticulous when cleaning.
Flossing, in particular, will be difficult, requiring an additional step to thread the floss under the false tooth to prevent gum disease from setting in. In contrast, implants replace teeth individually without affecting other teeth. You can easily brush and floss around an implant just as you would your natural tooth, making effective oral care much easier.
Dental implants are more durable than bridges and can last a lifetime if properly cared for. The titanium cylinder or post that is embedded into the jawbone fuses with your jawbone tissue naturally. As it is made of such a strong material, the implant itself is mostly resistant to decay. If a dental implant is properly cared for, the post will last a lifetime with only the crown (the false tooth mounted on top) requiring replacement every 15-20 years due to normal wear and tear. However, the crowns can last longer with proper care.
Conversely, the average life of a dental bridge, is approximately 10 years. At that time, the entire bridge will need to be replaced. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth still lives beneath it, they continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.
A dental bridge is less money spent initially, but it will need to be replaced in its’ entirety at some point in the future. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may be more expensive now, but can actually save you money over time. Most dental insurance providers now pay for all or at least a portion of the steps involved in the implant procedure.
Implant treatments can also generally be more flexible in scheduling, which allows patients to budget for and pay for them in increments. This is especially true when a bone graft is needed to reinforce the jawbone to support an implant. This graft site typically has to heal for several months before an implant can be placed. This inadvertently provides the patient with more time to save for the next phase of the process.
Dental Implants in Marietta, GA
If you are considering dental implants, you need to see the best implant dentist possible. Dr. Michael Mulkey of Lost Mountain Dental in Marietta, GA is a skilled professional with over 30 years in practice. For a consultation with Dr. Mulkey or one of the other skilled and professional Lost Mountain dentists about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call (678) 212-1280 or schedule a consultation online today!