If you have lost one or several teeth, you may be interested in restorative procedures that can replace your missing teeth and renew your confidence in your smile. Dental bridges are usually the first thing that come to mind for missing teeth, but dental implant technology is starting to overtake bridges as the preferred method of dental restoration. Both methods have their advantages. There are some important differences, though, between bridges and implants that may help you decide which procedure is best for you.
Bridges: The No-Surgery Solution
Until recently, bridges were the only solution for replacing a lost individual tooth. A bridge consists of at least three crowns with the crown on either end being fitted over adjacent natural teeth. The process for this involves removing the enamel of the adjacent teeth to allow the crowns to be fitted over them. Some patients might not like the idea of having additional dental work on otherwise healthy teeth, but the crowns are necessary to keep the bridge secure and do not compromise the strength of the surrounding teeth. Another possible drawback of a bridge is that teeth can be more difficult to clean and may therefore be more susceptible to decay, so diligent brushing is necessary.
On the other hand, bridges do offer several advantages. Not only are they a cost-effective way of replacing missing teeth, they are also a relatively quick procedure that can be done without any surgery.
Implants: The Permanent Option
Implant technology offers people with missing teeth the possibility of having a dental restoration that does not affect adjacent teeth in the way that bridges do. Instead of being held in place by crowns that connect with the fixture, dental implants are small titanium posts that are surgically anchored in the jaw. Once this first step is completed, there is a healing period during which the biocompatible titanium fuses with the jawbone and becomes permanently secured in place. Afterwards, the implant is topped with a crown that is custom designed to fit in place and look exactly like the rest of your teeth.
Dental implants offer many benefits over bridges. They are easy to brush and floss around, are as durable as natural teeth, and even help to prevent bone loss in the jaw by offering the same support and stimulation as the root of a natural tooth. One possible drawback of implants is the fact that they do require minor surgery to have the posts anchored, and the healing time in between the phases of the procedure can make the entire process take several months. Most people feel that the time commitment is well worth the end result and don’t find the surgery to be a major inconvenience.
The Cost Factor
Another consideration with any type of dental restoration is affordability, and some dental insurance plans may not cover either procedure. While dental implants are more costly than bridges, they offer a more durable and permanent solution that is far less likely to need replacement and can last for many years, making the up-front investment a worthwhile one.
McNeely Family Dentistry offers a wide range of restorative procedures, including bridges, dentures, and implants. Dr. McNeely is happy to work with you to find a restoration that will best suit your needs. We also offer flexible financing options to help you cover the cost of your dental care even if you are uninsured. If you are interested in learning more about dental bridges and implants, contact us today to schedule a consultation.