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Missing Tooth Replacement

Dental Bridges vs Implants for a Missing Tooth

Losing one or more teeth could have a significant impact on your smile as well as functional issues such as your bite. Missing teeth can put a serious dent in your self-confidence. Two popular and time-tested solutions that cosmetic dentists across New Zealand use to address these problems are dental implants and dental bridges.

Both solutions address the cosmetic and functional challenges, and each do it in their own unique and different way. There are pros and cons to each method, so you should understand the differences. It’s also important to understand what’s involved in the whole treatment before deciding if it’s right for your specific needs. Here’s what you need to know about dental implants and bridges.

Dental Implants

When a tooth is lost, the jaw structure (bone, ligaments, and nerves) in that area slowly begin to deteriorate. Natural teeth are embedded in the jaw bone and stimulate the jaw bone when chewing or biting. When teeth are missing, the alveolar bone, or the portion of the jaw bone that anchors the teeth in the mouth, no longer receives the necessary stimulation and begins to break down, or reabsorb. The body no longer uses or “needs” the jaw bone, so it deteriorates and goes away.

A dental implant replaces this structure with a metal (typically titanium) post. Over the course of a few months, new bone grows around the implanted metal. Once the new structure is secure enough, a crown will then be screwed on top of the implant and sealed into place.

What do Dental Implants Look Like?

Dental implants usually offer the most pleasing result, since we can make them look like your natural teeth.

Dental Implants – Pros and Cons

In our experience, some of the advantages of dental implants are:

  • They place less of a burden on the surrounding teeth.
  • Promote healing of bone structures and gums around the teeth.
  • Reduce long-term risks posed to the jaw.
  • Dental implants should be expected to last a lifetime.
  • Dental implants are easier to maintain than bridges. Implants can replace individual teeth while not affecting your other teeth, which makes routine home hygiene easier.

Some disadvantages include:

  • It can be expensive, even with insurance helping out. (Northmed Dental does offer financing to make the treatment more affordable).
  • The procedure takes longer and requires multiple procedures to complete compared to bridges.Your mouth may take months to heal following the initial implant procedure. Most dental bridge procedures typically take no more than a few weeks.
  • If you have diabetes, dental implants are more prone to failure than those placed in non-diabetics. Slow wound healing and the increase in the likelihood of wound infection that can occur in diabetics are two causes of implant failure in diabetes sufferers.

Dental Bridges

A dental bridge attaches to the remaining healthy teeth surrounding the gap to create a “bridge” across the area where the tooth is missing. Typically a dental crown is placed on the teeth either side of the gap upon which to build the bridge. A cap is then placed over each tooth and is accompanied by the bridge, replacing the missing teeth. In some instances, if there isn’t a tooth on both sides, we can use a cantilevered bridge. This type of bridge is attached to a single tooth on one side, and the bridge structure hangs over the gap.

What Does a Dental Bridge Look Like?

Like a dental veneer, a ceramic bridge can be attractive and largely unnoticeable. They should feel similar to your natural teeth, since crowns are designed to look as close to real teeth as possible. When you first get your bridge, you might feel mild discomfort and tenderness as your mouth adjusts.

Dental Bridges – Pros and Cons

In our experience, some of the advantages of dental bridges are:

  • Widely considered to be one of the most cost-effective methods for replacing missing teeth.
  • They don’t require bone grafting if bone loss is present.
  • Dental bridge treatment is a quicker process for replacing missing teeth.

Some disadvantages of dental bridges include:

  • They place greater strain on surrounding structures, especially the two teeth which are attached to the device. For this reason, a bridge rarely is expected to last a lifetime.
  • Dental bridges do not address concerns about underlying structural problems. Long-term issues due to bone loss due to the removal of teeth will continue to grow even after the gap is addressed.
  • Cantilevered bridges place a lot of stress on the single tooth to which they’re attached.
  • If a dental bridge is not properly maintained, it may lead to the loss of additional teeth.
  • Natural teeth under the dental crowns in a bridge are vulnerable to tooth decay and other issues. Small pieces of food can get stuck between the teeth and a poorly fitted dental bridge, causing tooth decay. If your dental bridge is at the end of its lifespan, it may develop cracks in the cement holding it in place. Bacteria can enter through these cracks, infecting the underlying teeth.
  • A bridge usually only lasts eight to 15 years before you will need to get it replaced.

How Much Are Dental Implants – Will It Be Covered by My Insurance Scheme?

Your insurance company may view dental implants and dental bridges as high-end, expensive, and perhaps even as a cosmetic dental procedure. Because of the difference in price between the treatments, most insurance schemes are more likely to pay for a dental bridge treatment rather than a dental implant.

If you have one or more missing teeth, and are considering having treatment, come in and see Dr Salman to weigh up your options. We have a pretty good idea about how much insurance plans will pay out, so we can help you make the right decision based on your individual needs.

Finding an Experienced Dental Implant Dentist

If you are missing one or more teeth and are looking for a more permanent tooth-replacement option than dentures, then use this information to determine if dental implants or dental bridges may be better options for you.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to find the right treatment for your missing tooth that meets your needs and budget. Our experienced dental team will carefully weigh up your situation, and give you a professional recommendation. Call us today and schedule a free evaluation. There is no charge. We will let you know what options are available to you before you make any commitment.