A beautiful smile is important for most people when it comes to feeling confident in themselves. That’s why losing a tooth is difficult for many people. Thankfully, modern dentistry has evolved to a point that there are now multiple options available to replace a lost tooth. The two most popular ways to replace a lost tooth are either a dental bridge or a dental implant. Either can be beneficial in individual circumstances. This article lays out the differences between both options so you can pick which one to get.
A dental implant is a titanium post, which acts as a tooth root and supports a crown. Dental implants are actually inserted into your jawbone during surgery. Once there, it will fuse into the jawbone (which usually takes around 3-6 months) and become anchored. Once it is fused, a connecting element (known as an abutment) is attached to the post-frame, which sticks out of the gum line and provides an area where the dental crown is screwed into. If you make a decision to get a dental implant, you should do it after weighing the advantages and disadvantages of oral surgery:
Advantages of a Dental Implant
- They require little maintenance to keep up.
- They can last a lifetime.
- They are very natural looking, so if someone saw you smile, they would not know a difference.
- They function and feel very similar to real teeth, to the point where you will forget you even have an implant
- They fill up the empty space in your mouth that would otherwise put you at a risk for jawbone deterioration. In that manner, they protect your jawbone.
- These implants can help stimulate and preserve bone growth.
- They stop bone loss.
- They do not add any strain on your teeth, which helps protect the surrounding teeth.
Disadvantages of a Dental Implant
- They require surgery, and as with any surgery, it comes with risks. Surgery can, in some circumstances, lead to nerve damage, damage to teeth, infection and jaw fractures.
- They take a lot of time to do. Inserting a dental implant is not just done in one visit to the dentist’s office. The process lasts several months. On the short end, it takes 3 months but on the longer end, it can take 6+ months.
- Dental implants can be quite expensive, and vary a lot depending on the type of implant used. In fact, the expenses of dental implants are the reason why most patients tend to shy away from this procedure.
- Dental implant success rates can be impacted by medications you take for other medical problems.
As the name implies, a dental bridge is what is used to bridge the gap between the missing tooth. A bridge refers to an artificial tooth that extends across an area that lacks teeth. The bridge is anchored in place by the teeth that are still present on the two sides of the missing teeth. So, why should you choose a dental bridge over an implant?
There are certain advantages of dental bridges over implants including:
- Dental bridges are carried out through a relatively simple procedure. It is not conducted through surgery, but rather a simple visit to the dentist’s office.
- Dental bridges are much less painful than dental implants.
- It is a much faster procedure to get a dental bridge done, compared to an implant. In fact, it takes, at most, a few weeks while implants can take many months.
- Dental bridges are cheaper than implants, yet they are still strong.
While the dental bridge may seem like the ideal choice, it does come with its own set of disadvantages, including:
- They don’t look as natural as implants, and may not be as visually appealing.
- They will need to be replaced periodically, usually around 5-7 years.
- They can damage a lot of the natural teeth you have, as the nearby teeth have to undergo removal of a significant amount of tooth structure to support the bridge.
- While they will need to replaced, once they are in, they are permanent and cannot be removed until it is time that they naturally need to be replaced.
So, how should you choose which one to get, a dental implant or a bridge?
Before you make a decision, you need to take into account several factors including:
- What you can afford. A dental bridge is much cheaper than an implant so you need to look into your finances to see which one is affordable for you. You should also look at your insurance plans to see which one your plan will cover. If your plan covers both, then find out how much extra you will have to pay on top.
- How much time you have. Dental implants take much longer to put in than dental bridges. That means that if you are very busy and don’t have the time to dedicate to go to the dentist’s office frequently, then you should stick with getting a bridge. As implants require surgery, you will need to take time off to recover, which is not the case for bridges.
- The lifespan. Dental implants will last a lifetime and may only need to be replaced approximately every 15 years. Bridges, on the other hand, will need to be replaced every 5-7 years. Take that into account before you make your decision.
There is no right or wrong answer as to whether you should choose a dental implant or a bridge as everyone’s situation is unique. You just need to carefully weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of each procedure and then determine which one you should get. Both of these options are great and can still achieve the ultimate goal of filling in a lost tooth and getting back your beautiful smile.
About the Author:
Dr. Fadi Swaida first graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honors BSc in Biology before graduating from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Dentistry. He is an active member of his church and enjoys football and being by the water! His outgoing personality and fun-loving character will ensure you always feel welcome at Bond St Dental.