If you have one or more teeth missing and would like to get the space restored, your dentist may discuss the option of having a Bridge or an Implant placed to help you.
Over the last few decades, thanks to big advances in technology, research and techniques, the ability to restore missing spaces is now more predictable and comfortable than ever.
Before your dentist can recommend either a replacement solution, they will need to conduct a thorough oral examination to establish your suitability. Once assessed, your Dentist will help run through which options are most viable and most suited to you.
What is the difference between a dental bridge and an implant?
A bridge, also known as a fixed partial denture, is a prosthetic tooth/teeth that are permanently fixed into your mouth, using the teeth either side of the space as anchors. Thanks to modern developments in adhesion and bonding, where traditionally these anchor teeth previously had to be filed and trimmed down, we are able to be more conservative than before in preparing these anchor teeth, though some degree of preparation is usually still required.
This involves removing enamel from the adjacent teeth to fit the bridge. A dental implant is a prosthetic tooth/teeth that is fastened permanently into your mouth, by means of a titanium, or sometimes ceramic screw which is placed into the jaw and around which the bone fuses and integrates. Once this is complete, the artificial tooth is attached onto the screw. In this way, the implant prosthetics do not rely on the health/structure of the anchor teeth and require no preparation of them to facilitate the implants success.
Dental implants are designed to be a much stronger and permanent replacement for your missing teeth. But for implants to be successful you need to have enough bone material in your jaw to hold and support the implant.
Implants can be a great solution to replacing missing teeth that have recently been lost. This is because your gums and jaw bone will have receded over time if your teeth or tooth has been lost for a long time.
You may need to have some bone-graft treatment done before your mouth is healthy enough to support a dental implant. This can add weeks to the length of your treatments as you will need to allow for tissue healing after each part of the treatment.
However, the great advantage of implants is they make it much easier to keep your mouth healthy. You can treat your implants just like your natural teeth. So you can brush and floss them along with your natural teeth. Whilst the implant performs and feels more like a natural tooth than any other prosthetic option.
Dental bridges need a bit more care and attention because they involve three or more dental crowns that are connected together to form a bridge between your teeth. This means that keeping your teeth clean can be a bit more challenging.
Your dentist or dental hygienist will give you special instructions about aftercare. This will include how to clean and floss under your false teeth to remove plaque and bacterial build-up.
Long term durability
Modern dentistry looks more at prevention than ever before; we continuously strive to be as conservative as possible in order to provide long-lasting treatment that does not weaken natural and healthy tooth structure. Both these options for tooth replacement are well researched and have been in use for over 30 years. If both are viable solutions for you, then the implant is considered the gold standard for replacement of a tooth. This is because it requires no healthy tooth to be removed from any anchor teeth.
Dental implants are more durable than bridges and much easier to care for over the long term. Your implants metal root will naturally fuse with your jaw bone and create a stable base to hold your replacement tooth in place.
Dental bridges will be subject to wear and tear. They very much rely on the health and stability of your natural teeth for their effectiveness.
Talk to your dentist about your options. They will be able to assess your suitability for either treatment.