For people with missing teeth, smiling and speaking to other people can be quite a challenge. Professional periodontists can perform dental procedures to address this problem, and one of the most popular options today is a dental implant. But what exactly is a dental implant? Is it better than a dental bridge? In this post, we will take a closer look at both of these procedures, helping you to make the right choice for you.
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is basically a titanium post that is “implanted” into the jawbone, to serve as a tooth root. It can then be used to support a dental crown. The implant is surgically inserted into the jawbone, and will undergo a process called osseointegration to make sure that it is anchored in place. This phase takes up to 6 months, and once successful, an abutment is connected to the post before a dental crown is screwed or cemented into it.
There are two types of dental implants, consisting of either Endosteal implants or Subperiosteal implants. With the former, the implant is directly placed into the jawbone and then a post is connected to it during a second surgery. An artificial tooth is then placed over the post. With a subperiosteal implant, a metal frame is attached onto the jawbone and once healed, the artificial tooth (crown) is attached to it.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The main advantage of a dental implant is that it can last a lifetime. You don’t need to have it replaced every 5-10 years. It also feels and works just like your real teeth (and teeth roots). You don’t need to remove your implant when you eat or brush your teeth, allowing you to pursue your daily activities in a relaxed, organic way. Lastly, it looks natural, is very stable and incredibly strong.
The biggest drawback is the cost. The high price of a dental implant is the main reason why people think twice before undergoing this procedure.
What are Dental Bridges?
A dental bridge functions to “bridge” the gap between missing teeth. Comprised of at least two dental crowns on each side of the gap, it makes use of an abutment tooth, which anchors the teeth and the false teeth.
There are several types of dental bridges – Traditional, Cantilever and Maryland bonded bridges. With a traditional dental bridge, the material commonly used is ceramic, although sometimes dentists use porcelain fused to metal. The bridge is created by the tooth crown on either side, with the pontic (false teeth) in between. A Cantilever bridge, on the other hand, is used when there is only adjacent tooth/teeth on one side of the missing teeth. Finally, a Maryland bonded bridge uses porcelain or plastic that has been fused to metal, and is supported by a metal or porcelain framework. Teeth on either side of the gap are bonded to the bridge’s porcelain or metal wings.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Dental bridges do not require surgery, and the procedure is fast, very simple and less painful. It’s also more affordable compared to a dental implant. However, a dental bridge does not look natural, and you need to have it replaced every 5 years. The preparation required for a dental bridge may also damage healthy teeth on the adjacent sides.
In the end, you really need to compare the pros and cons of each option to help you arrive at the right decision. What will work for you is really based on your own situation. Check your dental coverage to see if the procedures are covered, as this can truly help the decision making process a lot easier for you. If you don’t have dental insurance, you could also check with the dentist to find out if they offer payment plans to their clients.