Treating a smile with missing teeth is much easier than it used to be. Patients looking to restore their smiles now have several great options available depending on their needs, cosmetic goals, and budget. Dental bridges and dental implants are both good options for tooth replacement, and one of the most commonly asked questions we receive at Ridgetop Dental in Northern VA is how to decide between the two. Learn more about the difference between these two tooth replacement procedures with our Ridgetop Dental team.
Implants and Bridges: Benefits of Each
In the past, a bridge was the only choice available. A bridge involves more than just the missing tooth. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap need to be prepared by removing most of the enamel to serve as an anchor for the bridge. With dental implants, Dr. X embeds the replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a tooth that is stronger and permanent.
Nonetheless, a dental bridge may be your best option if the neighboring teeth have large fillings and need crowns or caps in the future. If the tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone will have receded and procedures beyond the implant- such as bone grafts- will be required before placement.
Dental Implant and Dental Bridge Care
Your ability to keep your mouth clean and healthy will be easier with an implant. 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. Many patients, especially those who do not floss regularly, have a higher risk of gum disease with bridges.
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.
Which Lasts Longer?
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 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 the entire bridge will need to be replaced. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth remains beneath it, normal wear may cause the bridge over time as the remaining tooth structures continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.
Bridges vs. Implants: Cost
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. Some 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.
Long-Term Tooth Replacement in Northern VA
If you are considering dental implants, you need to see the best implant dentist possible. Schedule a consultation with Ridgetop Dental online today or call our office.