When a single tooth is missing, patients can opt for either a dental bridge or a dental implant. These tooth replacement methods differ significantly from each other, so patients have a clearly defined choice.
For many patients, the cost of dental implants can be a deciding factor, but it’s important for these patients to consider not only the appliance’s upfront price tag but also any additional expenses that may be related to the treatment throughout the patient’s lifetime.
The key difference between dental implant and dental bridges is the implant’s replication of the tooth’s root structure. In placing the implant in the jaw, the oral surgeon is fitting the patient with an artificial tooth root that stabilizes the surrounding jawbone in addition to supporting the prosthetic crown.
The dental bridge has no such supportive structure. It only replaces the visible portion of the absent tooth. In doing so, it fails to anchor the jawbone, which will continue to erode. As the jawbone changes shape, the bridge will lose its fit.
A dental implant is expected to last 10-30 years, while a dental bridge will have to be replaced every five to 15 years. So, over a patient’s lifetime, the cost of dental implants will probably be about the same as that of a dental bridge.
Dental implants hold other advantages over dental bridges. Here’s a quick summary.
- Impact on adjacent teeth: Dental implants stand alone, while a dental bridge requires crowns on neighboring teeth to support the pontic in between. The process of placing those crowns requires that healthy enamel be sacrificed, and it can compromise the stability of those teeth.
- Functionality: Because dental implants serve as a root, this replacement tooth can absorb chewing forces in the same way as a biological tooth. A dental bridge cannot offer this level of functionality, and the excess forces are dispersed onto the other teeth, causing faster wear.
- Susceptibility to decay: The titanium dental implants are not susceptible to further decay, while the teeth surrounding crowns often do experience continued decay in the area where the crown and the biological tooth meet.
Patients who are considering treatment for a missing tooth should take steps to make a well-informed decision that considers all aspects of the appliance. Weigh all of these factors and talk to the office of Drs. Steven Sherry and John Wallace about which treatment option is best for you.