Dental technology has made incredible advances in the past 30 years. People that are missing teeth now have several dental treatment options available to them. Dental bridges have long been the established method of restoring missing teeth to your smile. However, dental implants are a newer treatment that is increasing in popularity.
So what’s the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant? Which treatment option is right for you? Most dentists including Dr. James P. Furgurson of Chapel Hill Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Chapel Hill, NC prefer implants for their patients’ restoration needs due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, numerous factors need to be considered, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Dentures and Dental Implants
In the past, a dental bridge was really the only choice available to patients with missing teeth. However, bridge involves more than just replacing the missing tooth itself. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap must be capped so that the bridge can be attached. This requires those teeth to have their outermost layers of enamel removed for the caps to slide over top. With dental implants, Dr. Furgurson embeds the replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a tooth that is stronger and permanent.
Nonetheless, a dental bridge may be your best option if the neighboring teeth have large fillings and need crowns or caps to reinforce them in the future. If the tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone will have receded and procedures beyond the implant- such as bone grafts- will be required before placement. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with Dr. Furgurson.
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 than bridges, providing protection that lasts a lifetime. The metal cylinder or post that is embedded into the jawbone is normally made of titanium or zirconia and this material fuses with your jawbone naturally. Because it’s composed of such strong material, the implant is mostly resistant to decay. If a dental implant is properly cared for, the implant portion will last a lifetime with only the crown (the false tooth mounted on top) needing to be replaced every 15-20 years due to normal wear and tear. However, they can last longer with proper care.
On the other hand, the average lifespan of a dental bridge is approximately 10 years and the entire bridge will need to be replaced. Also, because a portion of your natural tooth remains beneath it, the remaining tooth structures will continue to be vulnerable to decay and gum disease.
Dental Implants in Chapel Hill, NC
Both options are preferable to being afraid to smile because you’re self-conscious or having difficulty chewing. Although bridges are an older 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 will want a skilled and compassionate dentist. Dr. Furgurson and his associate, Dr. Nathan O. White, of Chapel Hill Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Chapel Hill, NC is a skilled professional with years of combined experience with dental implants. For a consultation with Dr. Furgurson about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call 919.736.6175 or schedule a consultation online today!