When faced with the question of how to best replace a missing tooth, the first two options we typically discuss are a dental implant or a dental bridge. Each individual situation is unique, and our goal is to educate you to help assist in making the best possible decision for your dental health.
In the majority of cases, when replacing a single tooth in the front or the back, a dental implant is the standard of care. It is the closest we can get to restoring the feel and function of a natural tooth. Unlike a dental bridge, an implant allows you to brush and floss the area the same way you would with a natural tooth. Even though gum disease around the implant can develop if proper care is not used, cavities can not exist on a dental implant. Since there is no remaining natural tooth structure, there is no place for traditional tooth decay to form.
Another major advantage of the dental implant is it does not require drilling or invasive work on the adjacent teeth. The entire procedure is isolated to one specific tooth. A bridge requires substantial work on at least two other teeth to work properly. Subsequently, if these adjacent teeth develop a cavity in the future, the entire bridge may need to be removed to stop the growing tooth decay.
When discussing the advantages of a dental bridge, we always talk about the original time commitment of the procedure. Dental implants can take around 6-8 months to fully restore, but sometimes only one month is needed to complete a new bridge. Because of the time involved and the materials used, a bridge is often less expensive and can be more appealing to patients from a financial standpoint. However, depending upon the location of the bridge of the patient’s history, a bridge may end up costing the patient more in the long run if it needs to eventually be replaced due to tooth decay.
Since each individual circumstance is different, the safest approach is to consult your dentist about your situation. Dental implants have become the standard of care in many cases when replacing missing or lost teeth, but dental bridges still have a very viable place in the modern dental practice.
For more information of dental implants or dental bridges, check out our website at http://www.brownandkupper.com/questions.php.
Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc