Dental technology has made great advances in the last few decades, and patients with missing or damaged teeth now have several highly effective treatment options available to them. Among them, the most popular are dental bridges and dental implants. While dental bridges have been established longer and are more widely available and less expensive, dental implants are rapidly gaining on them in popularity in recent years as the premier method of replacing missing teeth and restoring smiles. But what is the actual difference between these two tooth replacement technologies? And which one is the right option for your smile?
Dr. Leonard Hess of Union County Center for Comprehensive Dentistry in Monroe, NC prefers dental implants for his patients that have missing teeth. This is due to the strength, longevity and ease of care for dental implants. However, several different factors must be considered, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
In the past, a bridge was really your only choice if you wanted to replace a single missing tooth. However, a bridge involves more than just a crown replacing that missing tooth. The neighboring teeth on either side of the gap must have most of their enamel removed in order for the bridge to be mounted on them and cover the empty space. With dental implants, Dr. Hess embeds the implant screw directly into the jawbone like the root of a natural tooth, resulting in a tooth that is stronger than a bridge and, best of all, permanent. While bridges need to be replaced in full every 5-10 years. Dental implants can last a lifetime with only the crown on top needing occasional replacing.
If the neighboring teeth have numerous fillings or damage from severe tooth decay, a dental bridge may be the preferred option since the crowns that will support the bridge can repair these damaged teeth while supporting the pontic (replacement tooth). If the missing tooth or teeth were lost some time ago, the gum and bone tissue that once supported them may have deteriorated and surgeries to strengthen the tissue — such as bone grafts- may be needed before placement can occur. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be elaborated on by Dr. Hess at a consultation.
Your Oral Care Routine
Routine daily hygiene is easier with an implant due to the nature of dental bridges. Bridges are composed of at least three crowns permanently connected together to support a crown over the space of the missing tooth. This design can make brushing and flossing around a bridge difficult so those with bridges must be meticulous about cleaning their teeth.
In contrast, dental implants replace missing teeth individually, without affecting other teeth. Therefore, you can brush and floss around an implant just like you would your natural tooth, making oral hygiene much easier and more effective.
Dental implants can last decades longer than dental bridges. This is because the implant screw that makes up the “root” of the implant is made of titanium which is immune to decay. The titanium naturally bonds with your jaw bone tissue in a process called osseointegration, becoming as strong as a natural tooth. However, you must still properly care for your gums and surrounding teeth or you may still be at risk of implant failure.
Dental Implants in Monroe, NC
Both techniques are better than living with embarrassment about smiling or having difficulty chewing. Although bridges are a more established procedure, dental implants have become more common in recent years, and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth because of their durability and ease of care.
If you are considering dental implants, you should seek out the best implant dentist possible. Dr. Hess of Union County Dentistry is a skilled professional with over 16 years in practice. For a consultation with Union County Dentistry about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call 704.240.5045 or schedule a consultation online today!