When you have damaged or missing teeth, you may be faced with a decision between a dental bridge or dental implants. Both have their pros and cons, so how do you know which is the right choice for you?
Dental bridges usually consist of one or more false teeth that bridge the gap between natural teeth, hence the name. It is anchored in place by two or more crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap. These anchoring teeth are called the abutment teeth, while the false teeth in between are called pontics. There are different types of bridges, with the most common one being made of ceramics or porcelain fused to metal.
Dental implants are most often either endosteal or subperiosteal. Endosteal implants are typically made of titanium and are the most common. They will usually be in the shape of a small screw that is implanted directly into the jawbone. If you do not have enough healthy jawbone to support this type of implant, your dentist may use a subperiosteal implant, which is placed on or above the bone, under the gum. In either case, the implant protrudes above the gum to hold the replacement tooth.
While dental implants have become the method of choice for many dentists when they need to replace missing teeth, dental bridges continue to be a viable option that may have advantages over implants in certain situations.
For example, if the teeth adjacent to the space to be filled are themselves broken down, a bridge is ideal, as the damaged teeth will receive crowns that will protect them from further decay and disease. A traditional bridge may also be the right choice if the insertion of an implant might jeopardize the gum situation when gum height is low. Aesthetics might also be a consideration. A bridge allows for the correction of at least three teeth at one time, including their shape and colour.
A further consideration is the recovery time. Choosing dental implants will require a longer recovery period, requiring a minimum of two months for the implant to fuse (or osteointegrate) completely with the jawbone and be anchored in place. A traditional bridge, on the other hand, can be completed in as little as 2 days.
Other health concerns may also make bridges the safer choice. A patient may not be able to undergo implantation if they are suffering from cancer, diabetes, or autoimmune disease. Your own oral condition might preclude the possibility of implant surgery if you have little bone and require a bone graft procedure.
For many, cost is a deciding factor. Typically, implants are more expensive than bridges, particularly if more than one tooth needs to be replaced. Insurance often covers bridges, but frequently will not cover implants. Without dental insurance, this could become a significant factor in your decision.
Implants are an excellent means of replacing a missing tooth, but bridges have been a significant part of modern dentistry for nearly a century and continue to be a perfectly viable option for tooth loss, improving your smile and restoring your ability to bite and chew normally.
If you’re looking for a dentist in Calgary or if you would like to learn more about dental bridges and whether they are the right choice for you, contact us today.
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