If you need to replace an individual tooth or several teeth, you have several options. Two of those options are the dental implant and the dental bridge. Both of these procedures restore your tooth appearance and chewing surfaces, but each treatment is unique. Here are four differences between implants and bridges.
1. The Preparation Is Vastly Different
Services like tooth-cleaning and other general treatments are similar for patients receiving dental implants and bridges. After preventative care, cleaning, and diagnostic exams, the preparations for both types of lab-made teeth vary in significant ways.
When you’re replacing a missing tooth with a bridge, the teeth on either side of the absent tooth are used as anchor points above the gum line. These adjacent teeth are filed down into cone-like nubs. The dental lab uses your dental impressions to fabricate three attractive new teeth, which are fitted over the nubs of your good teeth.
If a dental implant will replace a tooth, your dentist must first determine if the bone in that segment of your jaw can support one or more titanium anchor screws. In healthy bone structure, a titanium screw will fuse with the bone in a process called osseointegration. In weakened or diseased bone, the screw will fail.
Patients who desire implants but who also suffer from eroded bone tissue will receive socket or jaw grafts to build up the bone structure where the dental implant will go. The newly grafted bone must fuse and any affected gums must heal for a few months before the rest of the implant process is completed.
2. Implants and Bridges Require Specialty Tools
Bridges are often harder to clean because of the gap under the missing teeth. However, there are specialty brushes that reach under the area to clean out food particles and germs.
An electronic irrigator is an effective tool for cleaning around and under a bridge. The device uses gentle pulses of water to loosen and dislodge food.
Dental implants also require diligence and fastidious home at-dental care to succeed. Special implant-friendly floss is recommended when you have this type of prosthesis. The fibers in conventional floss may shred and irritate gums.
If your dentist prescribes an appliance to wear after your implant, use the retainer or night guard as instructed. There are valid reasons for the appliance prescription, as awkward as your device may be to wear.
Your night guard or retainer is a vital dental tool that keeps your bones, teeth, and implant from weakening. In exchange for your dutiful, short-term appliance wear, you get years of durable service from your dental implant.
3. The Long-Range Expectations Vary
Dental bridges have a lifespan of around ten years. Because of the difficulty in cleaning under and around the bridge, this type of prosthesis is prone to pitfalls from lack of dental hygiene. Additionally, the bone under the missing tooth eventually erodes without a healthy root or implant to maintain the integrity of the jaw.
Expect your dental implant to last a lifetime. Once the titanium screw fuses with the jawbone, your implant should remain in place indefinitely. Trauma to the implant and certain medical conditions can affect your implant just as with normal teeth, but implants are designed to function with few long-term complications.
4. Implants Are More Costly Than Bridges
The cost of implants is going down in some areas due to new technology and dental innovations. However, a dental bridge is the less expensive option of the two treatments. If you use an implant to replace more than one tooth, the cost can be significantly higher than the cost of dental bridgework.
The bridge will need to be replaced around once a decade. The lifetime cost of dental implants versus bridges must be weighed with the additional thought of years of bridge procedures and extra office visits ahead.
Implants require monitoring by your dentist as well. However, after the implants are well established, they are easily checked during your normal semi-annual well visits. Well visits are often covered by dental insurance, too.
An implant may be easier to budget when you require multiple treatments including bone grafting. You can spread the fees over the duration of the treatment in some cases. Your health or dental insurance carrier may cover some of the costs of dental implants.
Keep your valuable prosthesis in good shape by following all of your dentist’s instructions. Good oral hygiene protects you from paying twice for the same procedure. Maintain the long-term cleanliness of the site by brushing, flossing, and rinsing your teeth two or three times per day.
Fix your smile and your chewing ability with implants or bridges installed by Silverado Family Dental. Contact our office today to schedule your examination in the Las Vegas, Anthem, Green Valley, and Southern Highlands, Nevada, areas. We take the time to explain all of your options to repair and replace your teeth, and we provide effective, individualized treatment to each patient.