Tooth Replacement – Dental Implant vs. Dental Bridging

Posted on August 13th, 2019 by Hiba Farzin

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A lost tooth is always a big concern that drains your self-confidence. Your smile, your words, your actions, everything lacks confidence. A tiny gap left behind by the lost tooth shouldn’t be allowed to reflect on your radiant personality anymore.

How can a lost tooth be replaced?

Considering all available methods to fill the gap due to a lost or extracted tooth, you have mainly four different ways to choose. These include removable as well as permanent false tooth fixation.

Removable options:
  • Partial Denture
  • Temporary Denture
Permanent options:
  • Dental Bridge
  • Dental Implant

If you are looking for a removable one, you can go with a denture. Before you choose, keep in mind that the dentures are movable and that makes it harder to function, hard to eat, and hard to be confident. They never make you feel like natural teeth.

But here we would like to give you a detailed comparison of various aspects like cost, durability, aesthetics, and procedure of the two permanent tooth replacement techniques- Dental Bridge and Dental Implant.

What is a Dental Bridge?

dental-bridge

A dental bridge, as the term says, looks like a bridge with two crowns at each end holding a false tooth (or multiple false teeth) between them. These are placed over the teeth adjacent to the gap after preparing them. The adjacent teeth are prepared by filing and reducing their size so that the crowns can be placed over them.

Dental bridges can be made from a variety of materials such as metal, resin, ceramic, porcelain, gold alloys, or other metal alloys. Porcelain bridges are often preferred to make the replaced teeth look natural.

What is Dental Implant?

dental-implant

A dental implant is the way of replacing lost teeth by fixing implant-posts in your jawbones. They function more like natural teeth. Implants can be used to replace a single tooth as well as several teeth. They can be used to hold bridges, called Implant-Supported Bridges. Implants are even used to secure removable partial and full dentures.

Patients need to have reached complete maturity before choosing the Implant option. Typically implants are ideal after the age of 25.

Which is better, a Bridge or an Implant?

Well, the answer to this question cannot be given considering a single aspect. Let us explain in detail.

  • The implant does not involve the adjacent teeth.
  • For placing a bridge, the adjacent teeth must be cut down, causing significant tooth reduction.

implant-vs-bridge

Which looks better?

At the early stages post treatment, both bridge and implant can have similar cosmetic results. However, with time, the results come out to be different.

Implants preserve facial structure throughout, preventing bone deterioration due to missing teeth. Whereas bridging may later cause bone degeneration in the area of the missing tooth. This leads to a recession around the adjacent teeth. The continued destruction can cause fractures, mobility, and associated infections to adjacent teeth. No need to mention, at this point, you are left with the only option – extracting those damaged teeth. And that doesn’t look good.

Which is more durable?

The durability of both bridge and implant depends on proper post-procedure care and maintenance of oral hygiene. If well maintained, dental implants can last for a lifetime. Bridges, however, have to be replaced after a period of 5-10 years.

What about the cost?

Well, this has a clear answer – bridges are less expensive than implants. Implants may cost up to thrice that of a bridge. However, the exact concern should be which one is more cost-effective.

As there is more chance for bone degeneration beneath the gum after bridging, the chances for damage to adjacent teeth can subsequently lead to the need for extraction of more teeth. And again the replacement process has to be continued.

On the other hand, chances for such situations are less for implants. Thus implants can be more cost-effective in the long term.

Which procedure is simpler?

Let us explain both the procedures in detail.

Process of Dental Bridging

It involves preparing the adjacent teeth by filing them to a smaller size. In some cases, a root canal treatment may be needed at this stage. Then the crown with the new tooth (or teeth) in the middle is cemented on top of these prepared teeth.

Process of Dental Implant

implants-vs-bridge

 

It involves two separate surgical procedures.

First Stage: To place the implant-post in the jaw bone.

This is usually carried under a local anesthetic. An incision is made in the gum tissue, and a hole is precisely drilled to place the implant. After placing the implant-post, the gum is stitch shut. The site is left to heal so that the implant-post can firmly integrate with the jaw bone.

During this process, new bone cells will grow on and around the implant post, ensuring they cannot move and is strong enough to support the restoration.

Second Stage: To fix the abutment and crown after evaluation of the implant.

This stage is shorter and simple than the first. Usually it is done between 3 to 8 months after completion of the first stage. But if the bones are strong enough, this stage can be done after a week of the implant placement.

The implant is evaluated to check if it has successfully locked into the jaw bone. Then an opening is made in the gum to expose the implant-post, and a healing cap is placed over it to shape the gum.

Finally, the abutment is screwed into the implant, and the new tooth is firmly positioned over it.

Conclusion:

Both the bridging as well as implant procedures, have its own complexities depending on other physical conditions of the patient. Each individual is different, and people heal differently. An implant may not be suitable for patients with certain medical conditions. Sometimes bridging may not be an option if you don’t have any adjacent teeth. Choose the one suitable for you.

A missing tooth should always be replaced. Visit your dentist for expert advice.

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