Choosing between a dental bridge and a dental implant is one of the most crucial and at the same time a very tricky decision to make. Both the treatment modalities have their own pros and cons ( I always, always suggest implants for my patients. I have explained the reasons for the same later in the article). But first, let’s briefly understand both the treatments and the need for the same.
When do I need a dental bridge or an implant?
A bridge or an implant is mainly to replace a missing tooth or the missing teeth and restore its functions. Not only that, replacing a missing tooth can save you from a plethora of other nasty effects of not having a full set of teeth. Irrespective of it being a front tooth or a back tooth, it is extremely necessary to get it fixed ASAP.
Talking about these two options let’s understand the bridge bit first:
What is a dental bridge?
It is a dental prosthesis by which the missing tooth/teeth are replaced taking support from the teeth around the empty jaw space. So a few teeth, depending on the need for support are shaped using a dental drill. This is done in order to make room for the bridge. The arrangement is such that is gives the appearance of a tooth emerging from the gums, but the crown is actually just floating or rather laying over the gums, with support from the adjacent teeth.
Bridges require a far simpler procedure than the implants, and the total treatment duration is lesser than implant placement.
They are more affordable than implants.
1. The esthetic appeal is nowhere close to the implant where the missing tooth actually emerges from the gumline.
2. To get support for the replacement crown two healthy teeth need to be ground and reshaped.
3. Some bridges need to be replaced every 5-7 years.*
When should you opt for a dental bridge?
So, if you have a medical condition that doesn’t allow you to get implants or if you simply want to replace your existing bridge, the dental bridge becomes the obvious choice.
Coming to the newer, better and a more esthetic treatment option and a near-perfect alternative to natural teeth, the dental implant:
This is a simple diagram that I use to explain the implant treatment to all my patients. The tooth on the right is the natural one with two roots and a crown. In order to spare the adjacent teeth, we take support from the implant (as shown on the left) to replace the missing tooth. In this case, the implant takes over the function of the roots.
Dental Implant procedure:
The procedure takes place in 2-3 parts, depending on the case. The first one being the surgical step. Here we numb the area, using a small drill and make space for the implant. Now, this little titanium implant is placed and buried under the gums for healing.
Now we wait for 4-6 months for the implant to heal and fuse with the surrounding bone.
After the optimum healing period, the implant then becomes a part of your jaw and has attained the strength to undertake the chewing forces.
Next, we uncover the implant and prepare it to receive the crown, and take an impression for crown fabrication.
Depending on the fabrication time taken by the lab, we then call you for your final appointment. And then yay!! You’re all set.
Yes, implant saves your other healthy teeth from being harmed; it has a more aesthetic appeal and they have a natural look and feel to them. Implants, most likely last a lifetime once put in your mouth. But here are some cons you should know:
The implant procedure involves surgery and therefore comes with surgery-related risks. (The risks are negligible compared to the benefits!!)
Implants are expensive: Especially if you multiple teeth that need to be replaced. Even with a single unit, it can get quite pricey.
Not everyone is an ideal candidate for implant placement: Patients with medical conditions like high blood sugar and elevated blood pressure levels might be asked to treat it first before the implant surgery. Also, the bone and the tissues surrounding the implant need to be healthy and suitable for proper fusion of the bone and the implant.
Follow-up schedule: Irrespective of treatment modality chosen, it is important that you go for a follow-up every 6 months or whenever your dentist says so. This regular follow-up will go a long way in extending the longevity of your dental prosthesis and giving you a healthy mouth for years to come.
If you have any more questions related to dentistry, do put them down in the comment section or send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re happy to help!