Today, there are many different tooth replacement options that can provide results for patients in a wide range of situations. Dental implants and dental bridges are among the most common and share a significant overlap in the types of cases they can treat.
However, they differ significantly in a few key areas. In many cases, dental implants can be a more effective option than dental bridges, offering several unique benefits.
What Is the Difference Between Dental Implants and Dental Bridges?
Dental implants and dental bridges both serve to address the issue of missing teeth. Both procedures can improve the appearance and function of your smile, along with your long-term oral health. However, they accomplish this in two different ways.
A dental bridge is a type of tooth replacement made from ceramic or resin to provide the appearance of natural teeth and the strength and durability needed for an effective tooth replacement.
The dental bridge is a single unit consisting of a row of three or more replacement teeth. This makes it possible to bridge a gap where a single tooth or several teeth are missing.
The dental bridge will rely on two natural teeth for support — one on either end of the gap. The teeth are prepared the same way that a damaged tooth would be prepared for a crown. External material is trimmed away to create a suitable base, and the bridge is attached with dental cement.
This provides an option to replace a tooth that is missing entirely, as opposed to a dental crown that can only replace a tooth that still has roots.
Dental implants can also be used to replace individual or multiple missing teeth, along with a range of other scenarios. Titanium implant posts are embedded in the jawbone, where they form a strong and long-lasting foundation for tooth replacement.
The implant posts can be used to support crowns, bridges, or full arch replacements. This means that dental implants can be used in virtually any scenario. When replacing a single tooth, dental implants do not require altering the surrounding teeth in the same way that dental bridges do.
Preserving Your Oral Health
Both dental implants and dental bridges can provide natural-looking and strong smiles. However, it is important to consider your long-term oral health when making this decision. In any scenario, you want to make sure that you are getting the best health outcomes.
When a gap is left by a missing tooth, surrounding teeth can shift and cause a wide range of bite issues and malocclusion. Dental implants and dental bridges are both effective in stopping this from happening. However, dental implants can be used in a wider range of situations because they do not rely on surrounding teeth for support.
Having a dental bridge placed requires altering two perfectly healthy teeth to serve as a foundation. In most cases, treatments that preserve natural teeth as much as possible are the best option. Dental implants use implant posts for support instead, leaving your healthy natural teeth untouched.
Providing a Long-Term Solution
Dental implants provide a long-term solution. The dental implant posts themselves generally last the patient’s lifetime with regular maintenance and yearly checks, meaning implant surgery is only needed once. The tooth replacements attached to dental implant posts can vary in their lifespan depending on many factors but can be easily replaced when the time comes.
Dental bridges can typically last 7 to 10 years, although some last longer. At that point, they can be replaced with another dental bridge. Replacements attached to dental implants tend to last longer, with 15 years being a general example of the expected lifespan.
In either case, how long your tooth replacements last can vary depending on how well you care for them, any physical accidents, issues such as bad bites or teeth grinding, and other factors.
Suitable for More Cases
Dental implants are a more versatile treatment option than dental bridges. A dental bridge can bridge the gap of one or several missing teeth, but only if strong, healthy teeth are available at either end to provide a foundation. If that is not the case, then a dental bridge is not a viable option.
Dental implants can be used in essentially any situation that a dental bridge can, along with many others. Two dental implant posts can support a bridge, or individual posts can support a crown. Systems such as the All-on-4® treatment concept can even provide full arch replacements.
While dental bridges can provide great results when suitable, you are more likely to find that dental implants are the right solution for almost any situation.
Which Tooth Replacement Option Is Right for You?
When both options are suitable, dental implants are often a better choice than dental bridges. However, every patient has unique needs, so it is best to consult a periodontist to evaluate whether dental implants could be the right solution for you.
The team at Periodontal Associates in Charleston, SC, offers state-of-the-art, compassionate care and provides a wide range of procedures, including dental implants. Learn more about this effective, long-lasting procedure and how it can improve your smile and your quality of life today.
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