Hmm, bridge or implant? When it’s time to completely replace a tooth due to periodontal disease or an injury, it’s normal to want to fill in the gap as quickly as possible. After all, who wants to suffer the caustic comments of less-than-kind colleagues about your toothlessness?
But whoa there, Nellie. The method by which you replace a tooth deserves some thought and discussion with your dentist. Implants, while more expensive at the outset, can be a better investment in the long run than bridges.
Before making a decision on how to make your smile whole again, consider the following benefits that implants offer, versus bridges:
- Better oral health: Did you know that when your dentist builds your bridge, he or she cuts down on healthy, adjacent teeth to support the bridge structure? (Yikes – who wants to lose even more teeth?) An advantage of implants is that no adjacent teeth need to be ground down to hold your new replacement tooth in place. Because a bridge relies on the side forces applied on the adjacent teeth and on the bridge’s structure, they can be uncomfortable for some people, by causing sore spots. Ouch!
- Better bone health: Treatment with implants involves placing the implants in areas where there are no teeth. When you chew using the implant, the movement applies direct pressure or stimulation to the jaw bone. Bone growth or preservation depends on continuing stimulation, so implants can help prevent a long-term bone loss in the area where the tooth loss occurred. With a bridge, chewing doesn’t apply pressure to the jaw bone, so the bone begins to shrink away. As you lose teeth and bone, your face changes because of the shift of structure under the skin, and a process that occurs naturally with aging, speeds up. Goodness, who wants to look older faster?
- Durability: Implants bond to the jaw bone and become part of it, establishing a connection as strong as a natural tooth root. Implants can last a lifetime compared to bridges, which have a life expectancy of only 10 years.
- Oral hygiene: Dental implants allow easier access between teeth, making it easier to brush and floss. Flossing bridges requires time, patience, and finesse. (For those of us who like to keep our dental hygiene simple and short, this translates a tedious, time-consuming process we aren’t likely to follow!) The upshot is that implants make regular oral hygiene easier.
- A better appearance: Modern technology allows dentists to create implants that look exactly like natural teeth. They always look better than bridges.
Bridges cost less at the beginning. But if you consider the durability of an implant, the greater likelihood you’ll brush and floss it properly, and how much better implants look, implants begin to look like the better deal!