There have been great advances in dental technology in the last 30 years. Patients with gaps in their smiles from missing teeth now have several great options available. Dental bridges are the tried and true” established method of filling the gaps in your smile. Dental implants are a newer method that has rapidly increased in popularity in recent years. But what’s the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant? And which option is right for you? Most dentists including Drs. John and Sara Gotwalt of Lititz PA prefer implants due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, there are numerous factors that need to be considered, such as if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
A bridge was once the only choice available choice. However, a bridge involves more than just replacing the missing tooth. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap need to be prepared by scraping away most of the enamel in order to place the bridge, attaching it onto these teeth. With dental implants, the Drs. Gotwalt embed the replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a tooth that is stronger and permanent. Nonetheless, a dental bridge may be your best bet if the neighboring teeth have large fillings and will need crowns or caps in the future. Also, if the tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, there will have been loss of jaw bone tissue and procedures beyond the implant- such as bone grafts- will be required before implant placement. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with the Drs. Gotwalt.
Your Oral Care Routine
Your ability to keep your mouth clean and healthy will be easier with an implant. Dental bridges are cemented in the mouth, and involve at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth. The nature of this design creates challenges when brushing and flossing, so it is important to be meticulous when cleaning. Flossing, in particular, will require an additional step to thread the floss under the false tooth to prevent gum disease from setting in. In contrast, implants replace teeth individually without affecting other teeth. You can brush and floss around an implant as you would your natural tooth, making oral care much easier and more effective.
Dental implants are more durable and longer lasting than bridges, providing protection that lasts decades. The metal cylinder or post that is embedded into the jawbone is normally made of titanium or zirconia and this material fuses with your jaw bone naturally through the process of osseointegration. Because it’s constructed of such strong material, the implant is mostly resistant to decay. If a dental implant is properly cared for, the implant itself will last a lifetime with only the crown (the false tooth mounted on top) needing replacements every 15-20 years due to normal wear and tear. However, the crowns can last longer with proper care. On the other hand, the average life of a dental bridge, is approximately 10 years and the bridge will need to be replaced in its’ entirety. Also, since a portion of your natural tooth is still there beneath the bridge, it will continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.
The cost of the dental bridge is less to start but it will need to be replaced at some point in the future. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may seem more expensive, but can actually save you money over time. Fortunately, many dental insurance providers now pay for a some or all of the steps involved in the implant process. The implant procedure is also generally more flexible, allowing patients to budget and save for the cost in increments. For example, a bone graft may be needed to reinforce the jawbone to support an implant. This graft typically has to heal for several months before an implant can be done. This inadvertently allows the patient more time to save money for the next phase of the process.
Both options are preferable to being self-conscious about your smile or having difficulty chewing because you’re missing teeth. Although bridges are an older, established procedure, dental implants have become more commonplace over the years, and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care.
If you are considering dental implants, you need to see the best implant dentist possible. Dr. John Gotwalt in Lititz PA is a skilled professional with over 30 years in practice and his daughter Dr. Sara Gotwalt shows the same passion for comprehensive dental care as her father. For a consultation with one of the Drs. Gotwalt about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call 717-220-4651 or schedule an appointment online today!