In today’s world, when a tooth is lost, most of us would like it replaced permanently with another tooth. The options for patients varies among different cases and situations. In the case of a lost or missing tooth, there have been traditionally several ways to restore it. The removable flipper, a cemented 3 tooth bridge (fixed bridge), or dental implants. If you have ever seen or worn a flipper, basically a removable retainer with a tooth attached, you know that it is not the best option. A fixed bridge may be necessary if there is inadequate bone or health issues deeming implants a higher risk. Dental implants have become the optimum choice, basically replacing the tooth with a whole new tooth.
Traditional Dental Bridge
A traditional dental bridge, utilizes one or more adjacent teeth for stability. A bridge is anchored to healthy teeth at either end. With a traditional dental bridge, the tooth behind and in front of the missing tooth are trimmed down, to accommodate the fitting of crowns. The bridge usually consists of 3 crowns fused together, and is custom fabricated by a laboratory technician.
There are three types of Fixed Dental Bridges:
-Traditional bridges involve fabricating a crown for the tooth on either side of the missing tooth, with a pontic (fake tooth) fused in between. Traditional bridges are the most common type of bridge and are generally made of either porcelain fused to metal or all porcelain.
-Cantilever bridges are used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. The cantilever extends out over the missing tooth space without end support. This type of bridge can cause rocking and damage to the tooth or teeth it is attached to.
-Maryland bridges (also referred to as a resin-bonded bridge) are made of plastic or porcelain teeth and gums supported by a metal framework structure. Metal wings on each side of the bridge are adhesively bonded to your existing teeth. The metal can show through and hamper cosmetics.
A dental implant is essentially a new root for your new tooth. The implant is surgically placed into your jaw, the bone grows around it and actually sticks to it. The process is called osseointegration. This is what gives the implant it’s strength. It is actually stronger than a natural tooth. The best part, is you do not have to disrupt the surrounding teeth, and it will never decay.
-Dental implants may be less noticeable and provide a more natural cosmetic appearance.
-Dental implants can be flossed, brushed , and treated like a normal tooth, bridges require more complex hygiene maintenance.
-Dental implants provide more efficient chewing than bridges, which may chip, break, or shift.
-Dental implants have a 98% success rate.
.-Bridges require healthy, stable teeth on either side of the missing tooth or teeth for placement. This is not required in the case of dental implants.
-The teeth to which a traditional bridge is attached are permanently affected by the procedure of placing crowns on them. With dental implants, adjacent teeth are not affected or prepared in any way. If one tooth to which a bridge is attached develops problems, the entire bridge will likely need to be replaced.
- Dental implants are generally a bit more expensive than bridges.
-Dental implants can fail. They may not integrate with bone, may develop periodontal disease, or may break.
-Dental Implants generally take a few months from start to finish of treatment, whereas a dental bridge can be completed in about 2 weeks.
The average life span of a bridge, with proper oral hygiene, is eight to 15 years. Dental implants are considered permanent, although any crowns or bridges attached to them are subject to normal wear and tear and may need to be replaced at some point. Proper oral hygiene is crucial to the success of any restorative dental work.
In today’s modern dentistry, dental implants are quickly becoming the first choice for many. The choice of an implant has become more affordable, and more successful. Life is all about choices. The dentist can give the patient the pros and cons of each procedure and allow the patient to make the most educated decision they can. The procedure you choose will solve the problem of a missing tooth, in the way that works best for you.