The difference between having a Bridge or Dental Implant.
What is right for you? If you have a tooth that is un-restorable and which needs to be extracted, there are several options to replace the missing tooth. This blog is to address two of the options 1. Three Unit Bridge 2.Dental Implant.
Three Unit Bridge
Why replace the missing tooth anyway? Well there are several reasons. The first reason is for proper function, the more teeth we have the easier it is to eat. Also, when a tooth is missing, this puts more force on the remaining teeth. This added force can likely cause a domino effect and start fracturing the other teeth which could result in another tooth extraction. If it is a front tooth, of course it’s more esthetic. Also teeth help us articulate our words, so a missing tooth will allow more air to flow between our teeth which can cause a lisp. If it is a back tooth, the tooth behind the missing tooth will start to move to try and close the space. These moving teeth will tilt and cause a “malocclusion” or bad bite. This bad bite can lead to the dreaded TMJ or jaw pain.
Now that we have discussed why to replace missing teeth let’s talk about how to do this….
The first option is a three unit bridge. This is only a viable option, if and only if, there are at least two teeth adjacent to the missing tooth. The advantages to a dental bridge verses a dental implant, is that it is usually the more cost effective of the two options. Also, the dental bridge will typically take less time to complete so it’s more immediate gratification. Lastly, this is a procedure that dentists have been doing successfully for decades. Some of the disadvantages are that you have to use the two adjacent teeth for anchors or abutments. So you are making a one tooth problem into a three teeth problem. The added stress that these abutment teeth are taking can cause them to break, which will result in a longer bridge. Again, the domino effect. Lastly, the typical life span of a three unit bride that around 15 years. Some bridges can last longer, but if you are younger when you have the bridge done, you may be redoing the bridge one or two more times within your life.
The second option is a dental implant. The dental implant has actually been around since the 70’s and over the years the dental implant has been perfected. Today a dental implant is typically the best way to replace missing teeth. Implants tend to act more like teeth than “replacement” teeth. Some of the advantages of an implant is that you don’t need to work on the adjacent teeth. There does not have to be two adjacent teeth next to the missing teeth. Also once that implant screw has attached to the bone, integrated, it will be attached to the bone for a lifetime. The tooth on a dental implant tends to last longer. Some of the drawbacks to implants are the cost, slightly higher than a bridge. Also the time, the typical time to restore a single tooth implant is around three months. Lastly, there needs to be enough bone for a proper sized implant screw. If there is not enough bone then the surgeon, most of the time, can create more bone.
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