Implant versus dental bridge: What are your options if you lose a tooth?

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Sometimes the unexpected happens, and you break a tooth. Was it that piece of caramel you couldn't resist,...

Sometimes the unexpected happens, and you break a tooth. Was it that piece of caramel you couldn't resist, or that bite you had out of that hard apple? Whatever the case, your smile has a gigantic gap! Now, your dentist says you only have two choices: implant versus dental bridge. What exactly are these and what is the best option for you?

Dental bridges

The purpose of a dental bridge is to use the adjacent tooth or teeth surrounding the missing tooth to create a support structure to anchor a false tooth. A bridge can also be used in the case of multiple missing teeth. There are different kinds of bridges applied to the teeth. The bridges commonly used are below.

Traditional bridge: This involves shaping the teeth on opposite sides of the gap, crowning those teeth, and using those crowns to support the false tooth or teeth. Unfortunately, the support teeth are sometimes compromised by crowning possibly decreasing the healthy lifespan of those teeth.

Cantilever bridge: This type of bridge use is for when there is only one tooth to support the false tooth. This bridge also requires crowning the support tooth.

Maryland bonded bridge: This bridge variant is not as strong as the other two, but it does not need as much prep work either. Basically, it uses two metal wings cemented to the back of the adjacent teeth; thus, the support teeth do not need crowning.

Implant

An implant is a titanium root embedded into the jawbone. Sometimes, a bone graft is necessary to ensure that there is enough bone to support the implant. Implants require healing time so that they are properly integrated with the bone and there is no rejection of the titanium root. An abutment and crown fit into the implant to replace the missing tooth. If there are multiple teeth missing, you can opt for an implant-supported bridge versus getting an implant for every missing tooth.

Dental implant versus dental bridge

A dental bridge is the least expensive option of the two. It is less invasive than the oral surgery required for the implant. However, it has a shorter lifespan than an implant. A dental bridge lasts somewhere between 5 to 15 years, while an implant has a 30+ year expected life. Dental bridges, unlike implants, can damage the surrounding teeth and do not prevent deterioration of the bone below the false tooth, leading to future dental problems. Dental implants, on the other hand, preserve bone loss because of the root replacement. The bridge's longevity heavily relies on the patient's compliance to keep up with regular flossing and brushing. They are by nature harder to keep clean in comparison to implants. So, which should you choose? Consult an Atlanta-area dentist to help you decide.


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