Losing a tooth doesn't just impact the way you eat. It can also cause you to be less confident about your smile, which can have a definite impact on how you conduct yourself in social situations. The prolonged absence of a tooth can also have other negative effects on your dental health.
Dental implants and dental bridges give you two options for restoring your smile. However, choosing between the two can be a difficult task to undertake. The following offers an in-depth look at the advantages and disadvantages of each option so you can make an informed decision about your future dental health.
Choosing Dental Bridgework
Before the use of dental implants became widespread, bridges were the go-to solution for tooth restoration. It's also the most affordable option of the two, with average costs for a traditional three-unit bridge ranging from $1,500 to $6,000, according to CostHelper.
Bridges are also a good alternative if you don't want to go through the invasive surgery required for dental implants. The installation process is also much quicker, with most bridges being fitted in a single visit. This also means you won't have to go through a prolonged healing process that often accompanies dental implant installations.
Unfortunately, there are a few downsides to choosing dental bridgework over implants:
- With a three-unit fixed bridge, for instance, the two teeth adjacent to the missing tooth must be reshaped so the crowns and pontic (the part that replaces the missing tooth) can slip into place. In essence, you'll end up compromising two perfectly fine teeth just to replace a missing tooth.
- Unlike dental implants, the bridge pontic rests above the gumline. Without roots the bone can bond with, you're still subject to future bone loss.
- Most bridges only last for 10 to 15 years, whereas dental implants can last a lifetime.
Choosing Dental Implants
Dental implants differ from bridgework by providing a permanent replacement for your missing teeth. In lieu of a natural root, your dentist will surgically implant a small titanium post in the jawbone. As the post bonds to the surrounding bone, your dentist will top the post with a metal abutment upon which the crown or bridge will be fitted.
There are several advantages to replacing your missing teeth with dental implants:
- Dental implants offer better aesthetic appeal. Most implants are designed to mimic natural teeth as closely as possible, allowing them to blend in almost perfectly with surrounding teeth.
- With dental implants, there's no need to modify adjacent teeth. The crown or bridge used with the implant stands alone, whereas a traditional bridge requires the adjacent teeth to be filed down.
- The titanium root used to anchor the implant in place eventually fuses with the surrounding bone, giving the adjacent teeth better support while preventing further bone loss.
- Unlike dental bridges, dental implants are designed to remain in place permanently.
Unfortunately, cost is one of the biggest detractors to having dental implants installed. According to CostHelper, a single implant could cost $2,400 to $3,000, but tissue and bone grafts, extractions and other additional procedures could raise the cost by several thousand dollars.
Dental implant procedures are usually spread out over the course of several visits, which could be a prolonging factor in terms of healing. Also, you may not qualify for the procedure if you already suffer from severe bone loss.
Which Should You Choose?
In the end, it's up to you to decide whether you want dental implants or dental bridgework. This decision may depend on your comfort level with the bridge or implant installation process as well as your budget. Regardless of which option you choose, you're sure to regain your confidence and preserve your future dental health. For help deciding which would work best, speak with your dentist.