Missing Tooth Replacement: Bridges vs. Implants

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As dental technology has advanced over the last 30 years, patients with missing teeth have gained several great options to restore the appearance and functioning of their smiles. Although dental bridges have been an established method of replacing lost teeth, dental implants are a relatively newer method that has increased in popularity in recent years.

But what’s the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant and which option is right for you and your smile? Most dentists including the skilled practitioners of Smile Dental Group in West Lancaster, CA prefer implants due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, there are several factors that need to be considered, including how long your teeth have been missing.

Practical Reasons for Both

In the past, a dental bridge was really the only choice available. A bridge involves more teeth than just the missing one. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap must be fitted with crowns onto which the bridge attaches.  For this the abutment teeth need to be prepared by scraping away most of the enamel in order for the crowns to fit over them.

On the other hand, with dental implants, your Smile Dental Group dentist embeds the replacement tooth directly into the jawbone where it will naturally bond to the bone tissue there. This results in a tooth that is stronger and permanent than with a bridge.

However, a dental bridge may still be your best option if the neighboring teeth have been damaged by tooth decay and need crowns or caps in the future. If the missing tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone may have receded and surgeries before the implant- such as bone grafts- will be required before placement to build back up the tissue to support an implant.

The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with your Smile Dental Group dentist.

Your Oral Care Routine

Maintaining your oral hygiene is simpler with an implant than with a bridge. Dental bridges involve at least three connected crowns filling the space of the missing tooth while anchoring in the replacement tooth. This design can make brushing and flossing more challenging, requiring meticulous cleaning. Flossing will require an additional step to thread the floss under the false tooth to prevent gum disease from developing.

Implants, however, replace missing teeth being embedded directly into the gums individually without affecting other teeth. You can brush and floss around an implant exactly as you would your natural teeth which makes oral hygiene much simpler and more effective.

Durability

Dental implants are more durable than bridges, providing restoration that can last a lifetime. The cylinder or post that is embedded into the jawbone can be constructed of titanium or zirconia and these materials bond with your jawbone naturally. The implant itself is mostly resistant to decay being constructed of such strong material.

If a dental implant is properly cared for, the implant portion will last a lifetime and, due to normal wear and tear, only the crown (the prosthetic tooth mounted on top) may need to be replaced every 15-20 years. However, crowns can last longer with proper care.  

A dental bridge only lasts about 10 years on average, at which point the entire bridge will need to be replaced. Also, because a portion of a living tooth remains beneath it, it will continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.

Cost Comparison

The cost of a dental bridge is less expensive initially, but the bridge will need to be replaced at some point in the future. Implants – from preparation to final placement – are more expensive now, but can actually save you money over time.

Fortunately, most dental insurance providers now pay for at least a portion of the implant process. Implant treatment can also take more time to complete from start to finish (if you need bone graft surgeries to build up your jawbone tissue) which allows patients more time to save for the cost.

Dental Implants in West Lancaster, CA

Both options are better than living with embarrassment or discomfort from missing teeth. Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants have become commonly performed over the years, and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care.

If you are considering dental implants, you should see the best implant dentist possible. Smile Dental Group are skilled professionals that have been serving the Antelope Valley area for years. For a consultation with a Smile Dental Group provider about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call (661) 383-0186 or schedule a consultation online today!