Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 30-08-2023
Losing a tooth can be a traumatic experience. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with a gap in your smile forever. Modern dentistry has the solution.
Dental implants and dental bridges are two common tooth-replacement solutions. Both are aesthetically pleasing and blend in with the rest of your natural teeth, thus restoring your beautiful smile. They’re also just as stable as your other teeth, so you can eat without worry.
But how can you determine which procedure is better for you? In this article, we’ll answer your questions about dental implants and bridges. Then, you can talk to your dentist at Milltown Dental in Milton, Ontario.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant replaces the entire structure of a missing tooth. It typically has a titanium post, which is inserted into the jawbone. As the bone regenerates, it fuses with the post and creates a stable base for the artificial tooth. The stability is so significant that dental implants usually feel more natural than dentures or conventional bridges.
Once the new bone has grown around the implant, a crown is then securely fitted on the top of the implant.
Since the dental implant is normally placed immediately after a tooth extraction, it preserves the natural state of your jawbone. There’s no time for the surrounding teeth to shift or move because of a new gap in your smile. As a result, the implant fits perfectly with the rest of your teeth and sits naturally in your mouth.
You can only qualify for a dental implant if you have healthy bones and gums. Otherwise, the post cannot be inserted into the gums or fuse properly with the jawbone.
How long do dental implants last?
If properly cared for, your dental implants can last for decades. It’s very common for implants to last for 20 years or more. The titanium in the post is extremely durable and resistant to gum problems.
The Pros of Dental Implants
Protects your jawbone: Dental implants reduce the long-term risks to the jawbone, such as bone loss and deterioration. After all, your jaw isn’t meant to have an empty space in it. A dental implant replaces the natural tooth, filling in the gap in the jaw, stimulating bone growth, and preserving the integrity of the jawbone.
Prevents misalignment: Since a dental implant replaces your natural tooth, it preserves the alignment of the rest of your teeth. Getting an implant prevents teeth from shifting, which can cause more problems down the road.
Doesn’t strain your teeth: Implants have their own support system in the titanium post. Bridges, on the other hand, rely on neighbouring, natural teeth for support. As a result, implants offer stability without straining the adjacent teeth.
The Cons of Dental Implants
Surgery: Getting dental implants requires oral surgery. Although this surgery is perfectly safe and has a very low fail rate, some patients may feel a little intimidated by the procedure.
Time: Implants require multiple procedures to complete. You have to wait a few months between the implant and the crowns being attached. Because of healing time, the entire procedure takes around three months.
Cost: Generally, dental implants cost more than dental bridges.
What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is an artificial tooth (or teeth) anchored to the surrounding teeth. The bridge, quite literally, bridges the gap in your smile. It is made from a variety of materials, including porcelain, gold, silver, cobalt, and chromium. Many patients prefer porcelain because it perfectly blends in with their natural teeth.
You may opt for a dental bridge if one of your teeth has been knocked out, extracted because of disease, or severely damaged.
Before the bridge can be placed, the surrounding teeth need some preparation. With traditional dental bridges, the two teeth on opposite sides of the gap are shaved down to accommodate the bridge. A cap is placed over each tooth with the bridge in the middle. The bridge is then attached with a strong adhesive.
Types of Dental Bridges
Traditional dental bridges: Typically made from porcelain, these bridges are small, lightweight, and durable.
Maryland bonded bridges: Also called a wing bridge, it’s embedded into the neighbouring teeth with metal attachments. Maryland bridges are used when only one tooth is missing or placed in parts of the mouth incapable of handling large forces.
Cantilever dental bridges: This type of bridge is used when only one tooth can be used as an anchor. They cannot be placed in the back of the mouth where chewing occurs.
Composite bridges: A composite bonding bridge fills the gap during a single appointment.
Implant-supported bridges: This dental bridge is anchored to two implants instead of the adjoining natural teeth. It’s very stable and easy to clean.
How long do dental bridges last?
Your dental bridge will last longer if you take care of it. On average, dental bridges last for seven years. However, they can remain in place for as long as 25 years with proper oral hygiene and regular checkups with your dentist at Milltown Dental.
The Pros of Dental Bridges
Cost-effective: Dental bridges are a highly cost-effective way to replace missing teeth. They can be placed over one or two appointments.
Simple procedure: Placement is simple, less painful, and faster (requiring only one or two appointments). No anesthesia is necessary. Plus, recovery time is shorter because there is no need for surgery or bone grafting.
Best for multiple missing teeth: If you’re missing several teeth, your dentist will likely recommend a dental bridge instead of multiple implants.
The Cons of Dental Bridges
Does not prevent bone loss: Since a bridge does not replace the open space in the jawbone, bone loss is a real possibility. You may encounter long-term issues arising from bone deterioration.
Damage and strain surrounding teeth: The adjacent teeth are shaved down to accommodate the bridge. Then, supporting the bridge places strain on these teeth. If a Maryland bridge is not properly maintained, it can lead to further tooth loss.
Periodic replacements: Bridges need to be replaced periodically, typically every 5-7 years. They rarely last a lifetime.
Should you get a dental implant or a dental bridge?
The answer to this question depends on your situation. Dental implants are more expensive and take longer (three months with multiple appointments). However, they can last a lifetime and prevent bone deterioration. They’re incredibly stable without placing strain on the surrounding teeth.
Dental bridges, conversely, are faster to place. No surgery is required, and recovery time is shorter. That said, they do not last as long, do not prevent bone loss, and must be replaced at least once every 10 years.
Contact Milltown Dental for Implants and Bridges in Milton
Ultimately, your dentist will help determine if a dental implant or bridge is right for you. Although both implants and bridges are fantastic replacements for missing teeth, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your Milton dentist at Milltown Dental to learn more.