Patients with missing teeth now have several options available to restore their smiles. Dental bridges used to be one of the only tooth replacements available, but now dental implants have emerged as a permanent way to replace missing teeth. So which is better?
Most dentists, including Dr. Datta Malyavantham of Ridgetop Dental in Sterling, VA, prefer dental implants due to their longevity and durability. However, there are several factors to consider before choosing a tooth replacement.
Practical Reasons for Both
Dental bridges used to be the only way to restore missing teeth. Bridges involve more than just the area where the tooth is missing, requiring the surrounding teeth to be prepared by removing most of the enamel to attach the bridge.
With dental implants, the replacement tooth is inserted directly into the jawbone, resulting in a stronger, more permanent tooth. In cases where only one tooth is missing and there are no issues with the surrounding teeth, an implant is usually the best choice.
If the teeth on either side of the gap will need crowns, caps, or large fillings, it may make more sense to have a dental bridge. If it has been a long time since the tooth was lost, additional treatment may be required prior to the implant procedure. Ultimately, the advantages and disadvantages to both should be discussed with your dentist.
Your Oral Care Routine
Dental implants are easier to clean than dental bridges and do not require any special maintenance. Dental bridges are cemented in the mouth, and involve at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. The nature of this design creates challenges when brushing and flossing, so it is important to be meticulous when cleaning. Flossing, in particular, will require an additional step to thread the floss under the false tooth to prevent gum disease from setting in.
In contrast, implants replace teeth individually without affecting other teeth. You can brush and floss around an implant as you would your natural tooth, making oral care much easier and more effective.
Dental implants are more durable than bridges, providing protection that lasts a lifetime. The metal cylinder or post that is embedded into the jawbone is normally made of titanium or zirconia and this material fuses with your jawbone naturally. Because it’s comprised of such strong material, the implant is mostly resistant to decay.
If a dental implant is properly cared for, the implant portion will last a lifetime with only the crown (the false tooth mounted on top) needing to be replaced every 15-20 years due to normal wear and tear. However, they can last longer with proper care.
On the other hand, the average life of a dental bridge is approximately 10 years and requires an entirely new bridge. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth remains beneath it, the remaining tooth structures continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.
The cost of the dental bridge is less initially, but it will need to be replaced at some point in the future. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may seem more expensive, but can actually save you money over time. Fortunately, most dental insurance providers now pay for a portion of or all of the steps involved in the implant process.
Implant treatment is also generally more flexible, allowing patients to budget the cost in increments. For example, a bone graft is sometimes needed to reinforce the jawbone to support an implant. This graft typically has to heal for several months before an implant can be done. This inadvertently allows the patient more time to save for the next phase of the process.
Dental Implants in Sterling, VA
Both options are preferable to being afraid to smile because you’re self-conscious or having difficulty chewing. Dental implants have become more commonplace over the years, and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care.
For a consultation with Dr. Datta about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call (703) 520-7410 or schedule a complimentary consultation online today!