Having a missing tooth can have a negative impact on your confidence in your appearance. If you are dealing with this, you are not alone. Approximately 178 million American adults are missing one or more teeth according to the American College of Prosthodontists. Reasons for tooth loss include tooth decay, gum disease, and trauma.
No matter the cause, modern restorative dentistry can help restore your smile after tooth loss. There are two main options: a dental bridge or an implant with a crown. In most cases, an implant is a better long-term solution, but a bridge may still be recommended for you based on your needs.
The Basics – What Bridges and Implants Are
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge consists of two crowns placed on top of natural teeth on either side of a missing tooth (or multiple missing teeth). A prosthetic tooth is placed in the middle of the crowns. In order to place a bridge, the teeth on either side of the gap must be strong enough to support the crowns. The bridge is made of ceramic and your dentist will carefully design it to match your remaining natural teeth.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a titanium post that an oral surgeon places in your jaw bone. A natural tooth has a root that extends into the jaw and an implant acts as an artificial root. In order to make your smile look natural, your dentist will need to create a crown to place on top of the implant. Like a bridge, this crown is made of porcelain.
Benefits of a Dental Implant
In most cases, we recommend a dental implant for tooth replacement.
Some of the benefits include:
1. Prevent Bone Loss: Normal chewing exerts pressure on your jaw bone and strengthens it. When you lose a tooth, the lack of pressure triggers your body to begin resorbing the jaw bone. In the first year, you can lose as much as 25% of the surrounding bone. This can cause other remaining natural teeth to shift, causing crookedness or differences in your appearance. An implant exerts similar pressure compared to a natural tooth root and prevents bone loss.
2. No Need to Remove Enamel From Nearby Teeth: Before you get a bridge, your dentist will need to prepare the teeth on either side in order to place the two crowns. This requires removing some of the teeth in order to ensure a proper fit. If both of these teeth are healthy, it’s beneficial to get an implant instead so you do not need to make any changes to the existing teeth.
3. Long-Lasting: A dental implant can last for 40+ years with proper care. By comparison, a bridge can last for 20+ years. Modern bridges are more durable and are fairly long-lasting, but implants can continue to benefit you for even more years compared to dental bridges. Since your teeth are less likely to shift with an implant compared to a bridge, the placement of other teeth is typically going to be more consistent as well.
When To Choose a Dental Bridge Instead
Despite the above benefits for dental implants, there are some circumstances when a bridge may be a better fit for you.
1. Your Jaw Won’t Support An Implant: If you have already been missing your tooth for a long period of time, it is possible you have already lost bone in the area. In this case, there may not be enough left to support an implant. You would either need a bone graft or your dentist may recommend a bridge instead, depending on the situation.
2. The Teeth On Either Side of the Gap Need Crowns: If you lost your tooth due to decay, it is common for the other teeth in the area to also need treatment. In situations where both teeth on either side of the missing one need crowns anyway, it may make sense to get a bridge and solve multiple issues at one time.
3. Issues With Surgery: A bridge does not require surgery, whereas a dental implant does. If there are medical issues that could impact the surgery, a bridge may be recommended instead of implants.
Restore Your Smile After Tooth Loss
If you have lost one or multiple teeth, Smith Dentalworks can help. Our skilled dentist will examine your teeth and can help you determine what the best solution will be for your needs. We work with a trusted oral surgeon for implant placement and will ensure your new smile looks natural.