Dental Implants and Bridges

Losing teeth is upsetting, but unfortunately, it’s a situation that will be faced by many of us. If you do lose teeth, it’s crucial to replace them as soon as possible, even if it is just a single tooth.

Why It’s Important to Replace Missing Teeth

Leaving a gap in your mouth can negatively affect your dental health, potentially destabilizing nearby teeth, and it can change the way your teeth bite together because they will shift out of place towards the empty space. When you don’t have all your teeth, it can impact your ability to bite and chew food thoroughly, and the stresses and strains created when you chew food are spread amongst fewer teeth. This can increase the risk of these teeth becoming chipped or cracked or worn down prematurely. Then, of course, there is the cosmetic impact of losing teeth, and especially if the missing tooth is right in your smile line.

If you are facing tooth loss, our prosthodontist, Dr. Michael Brooks, can discuss the most suitable replacement. Your options most likely include dental implants or dental bridges.

What Is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge literally “bridges” the gap left behind by a missing tooth and is supported by the teeth either side of the gap, called abutment teeth. These teeth must be substantially reshaped as they are covered with dental crowns. The dental crowns are attached to the replacement tooth, which is called a pontic, and it rests on the gums. More than one missing tooth can be supported by a dental bridge provided the missing teeth are adjacent to each other, and the abutment teeth can provide adequate support.

Why Choose a Dental Bridge?

Dental bridges have been around for a very long time, and they can look fabulous. Extensive care is taken when fabricating a dental bridge, and when aesthetics is particularly critical, we can use the very latest all-ceramic materials to create a dental bridge that is entirely metal-free. This can be an extremely nice option when restoring front teeth.

Although the abutment teeth do need to be ground down, this might not be such a bad thing if these teeth are already decayed or heavily filled and will benefit from being covered by a crown. Also, the procedure for having a dental bridge is relatively quick and non-invasive, and it doesn’t require any oral surgery. This may be preferable for someone who feels a bit anxious or nervous about receiving dental treatment. Initially, a dental bridge may seem to be a more cost-effective solution compared with dental implants.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are frequently regarded as being the most modern and advanced way to restore missing teeth. When you lose a tooth, the entire tooth is extracted including its root. A dental implant is unique in that it artificially replaces the tooth root with a small titanium post surgically inserted into your jawbone. Once in place, the post soon integrates with the surrounding bone as new bone cells begin to grow on and around the post. Over 3 to 6 months, the implant post becomes fused in your jawbone, creating a strong, durable, and stable anchorage point for a new artificial tooth.

Why Choose Dental Implants?

Dental implants can be an excellent choice and especially when you only need to restore a single tooth. This is because an implant is freestanding and doesn’t require support from the adjacent teeth. Instead, its effect is protective and here is why.

- No Need to Grind Down Adjacent Teeth

Whereas a dental bridge requires abutment teeth to be heavily modified, a freestanding dental implant requires no such alterations. Instead, teeth adjacent to the gap can remain fully intact which is preferable if they are strong, healthy, and free from decay.

- Protecting Your Bite

Dental implants prevent your existing teeth from shifting out of position which could affect your bite. Also, a dental implant will share the stresses and strains created when you bite and chew food, and especially because it is an extremely strong restoration.

- Protecting Your Jawbone

Perhaps one of the most important reasons for choosing a dental implant is the protective effect on your jawbone. After natural teeth are removed, the jawbone begins to remodel, and bone is gradually absorbed. Bone loss can destabilize adjacent teeth, and when multiple teeth are lost, this bone loss can affect your overall appearance. Dental implants are the only tooth loss solution to help prevent bone loss because they so closely replicate a real tooth root. A dental implant provides all the stimulation usually supplied by a natural tooth root, ensuring bone resorption will not occur.

- Easy to Care for

Single dental implants are exceptionally easy to look after because you can brush and floss them just like real teeth. A dental bridge may require a little more work because it’s essential to clean underneath the pontic and to clean around the dental crowns thoroughly. However, if you do opt for dental implants, it’s vital to ensure your oral hygiene routine is meticulous. One common misconception is that because dental implants are artificial, they cannot become infected. While artificial materials cannot decay or become infected, the living bone and gum around them certainly can!

How to Decide if Dental Implants or a Bridge are Better for You?

If you are facing tooth loss, we can help you here at Pacific Northwest Prosthodontics. We can discuss each treatment in more depth, helping you to weigh up the pros and cons of each solution. Our prosthodontist, Dr. Brooks can examine your mouth and will talk to you about your dental and medical history. This is important because sometimes certain medical conditions can affect the success of dental implant treatment, for example, poorly controlled diabetes or other conditions affecting the immune system. Your lifestyle habits have an effect too, and if you smoke and would like dental implants, be prepared to quit because this habit significantly affects healing and could ultimately lead to implant failure.

Another thing to talk about is dental fears and phobias, and if you are affected by these, ask us about sedation dentistry. It can be a far more comfortable way of receiving dental treatment, including dental implants. Lastly, dental implants can initially cost a little more than a dental bridge, but in the longer term, they are frequently more cost-effective. Contact the dental experts at Pacific Northwest Prosthodontics today - (509) 796-0885.