Implants vs Bridges
Creating Beautiful Smiles Everyday
Two of the most popular widely used options for teeth replacement solutions on the market today are dental implants and dental bridges.
Each of these options has its unique advantages and disadvantages that we advise our patients to consider.
Our goal here at Smiles of Chandler is to help guide you toward a solution that is unique to you and will meet your personal needs and wants. In my experience, dental implants will often be the best choice but all options should be considered. Dental Bridges can sometimes be the best option.
Do we need to do a surgery?
As the name suggests, a dental implant is a titanium screw that is physically embedded into the tissues of the mouth (specifically into the bone). This provides improved stability and long-term viability. This process does involve surgery since there is penetration of the gums and bone tissue. However, most patients experience very little discomfort during or after the procedure.
Typically, only local Anesthetics are used and a recovery period of 4 – 6 months or longer may be necessary for complete healing.
Dental bridges do not require invasive surgery and can be completed much quicker than an implant, making them, in some cases, better suited for patients who cannot or will not tolerate surgery.
What supports my missing tooth?
Rather than relying on an implanted titanium post and its adherence to the bone for structural stability, dental bridges use adjacent teeth for support, however, that does mean that those adjacent teeth have to be modified (crowned) to support the bridge. Dental bridges literally bridge the gap formed by a single or multiple missing teeth. Of course, this bridging has limitations as you can imagine.
To support a dental bridge properly, adjacent (usually) healthy teeth must have some of their enamel shaved off to allow for the dental bridge to be fitted. Dental implants, on the other hand, operate independently from adjacent teeth and can be placed just about anywhere in the mouth.
Do they feel the same?
One of the advantages of a dental implant is that they are embedded in bone, meaning that when you chew on them there is a sensation of vibration felt in the surrounding bone that gives you a sensation of knowing how hard you are biting. This is not the same as the tooth it replaced but there will still be some sensation there. With dental bridges you will only feel this in the adjacent teeth.
When tooth loss occurs, that transfer pathway is broken. As a result, the body interprets this lack of physical stimulation (from chewing) as a signal to resorb (slowly melt away) underlying bone structures which it considers to be no longer needed. This bone resorption (disappearing of bone) for patients suffering from edentulism (missing teeth) can result in a shrunken facial appearance, a reduction in the jawline, and thinner jaw bone depth. This also decreases the bone available for potentially placing an implant in the future.
Dental implants replace the missing roots of lost teeth with artificial (titanium) ones. The implant acts as a conduit for the transfer of stimulating forces (from chewing), thus allowing for the bone to be retained.
Because of the independent structure of each individual implant as mentioned above (each replacement tooth has its own implant), dental implants can effectively be placed almost anywhere in the mouth and virtually replace any tooth. (Exceptions would be areas where there is lack of bone or lack of space)
Dental bridges, on the other hand, are not suitable for the replacement of certain teeth and require that the presence of healthy adjacent teeth on each side for structural support. Specifically, they are not recommended for the last tooth in the arch as there is not a tooth behind it for support. This type of bridge has been attempted in the past (know as distal Cantilever bridges) and have not been very successful. As a result, dental bridges would also not be suitable for an edentulous (missing all teeth) patient, or a patient with more than three consecutive missing teeth.
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