We have reached the fourth and final blog in our Cosmetic Dentistry series, Understanding Dental Implants and Bridges. These two procedures address the same purpose, replacing a missing tooth, but they are very different on a technical level. To help you better understand the differences, we will define them and break down the parts of each.
Dental implants are metal fixtures surgically fastened to your jawbone below the gums, where artificial teeth can be mounted.
Parts of a dental implant include:
Fixture or implant post- a cylindrical screw implanted into the jawbone to serve as an artificial tooth root
Abutment-small connector piece that sits between the implant post and the prosthetic
Dental prosthetic-visible portion of the implant (the crown)
The fixture is inserted into the patient’s jawbone, acting as an anchor for the prosthetic tooth (crown). The implant replaces the missing tooth using a metal post (made of titanium) custom fitted to the patient’s mouth.
A dental bridge is a fixed dental restoration used to replace one or more missing teeth by bridging the gap between the two adjacent teeth. A bridge is considered one unit, typically three crowns splinted together.
Parts of a dental bridge include:
Abutment-the base of the bridge cemented to the nearby teeth
Crown-sits on top of the abutment and holds the pontic
Pontic-the replacement tooth
Dental bridges attach to the adjacent healthy teeth. A crown is placed over the adjacent teeth and the bridge, consisting of one or more teeth, connects them.
Factors to consider when considering Bridges or Implants are:
Future restorative or cosmetic procedures
Now that you are more informed about what a dental bridge and dental implant are, let’s go even deeper and talk about who is a candidate, the benefits, and the pros and cons of each.
Benefits of a Dental Implant
Restores the ability to chew
Puts less burden on the surrounding teeth
Promotes the healing of bone structures and gums under the teeth
Preserves health of the surrounding gums
Helps keep adjacent teeth stable
Improves quality of life
Benefits of a Dental Bridge
Replaces a missing tooth
Improves speech and pronunciation skills
Corrects proper biting and chewing techniques
Restores your smile and confidence
Prevents misalignment of remaining teeth
A good candidate for Dental Implants has
Good oral health
Strong, healthy jawbone and gums
Interest in replacing one or more missing teeth
Willingness to undergo a more invasive treatment process
Minimal teeth grinding
No major uncontrolled medical concerns, such as diabetes or periodontal disease
A Candidate for a Dental Bridge has
No periodontal disease
No medical issues, such as diabetes
Two strong teeth that can be used as abutments for the bridge
Pros of a Dental Implant
Aesthetically pleasing; looks and feels like a natural tooth
Involves a single tooth; doesn’t rely on adjacent teeth
Easy to take care of with brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups
Pros of a Dental Bridge
Less invasive procedure: no surgery is required and can be completed in a few weeks
More affordable option
Has a long history of success
Cons of a Dental Implant
More extended procedure: bone grafting may be necessary and has a longer healing time
Typically, insurance won’t pay for this procedure
Can be expensive if multiple teeth need to be replaced: the average cost of one implant is $5000
Grinding your teeth can damage the implant
Bone loss can occur without proper oral care
Cons of a Dental Bridge
Can be damaging to adjacent healthy teeth
All teeth fail if the abutment (surrounding teeth) fails
Good oral care is necessary
More challenging to floss your teeth
Doesn’t feel as natural as implants
What should you expect if you come to Family Dentistry of Lakewood for these procedures?
When you come to our office, we will complete a comprehensive exam and take x-rays. We must assess the condition of your jaw to determine the best dental implant procedure. We use the CBCT (Cone-Beam Computed Tomography) to take a scan of the mouth to determine the quantity and quality of your bone. Once we decide the best option, we move forward, ordering the necessary parts.
The process can take up to 7 months to complete. We will use a local anesthetic and place the titanium implant into the gum; time is needed for the implant to heal and grow bone. We need to make sure your body will respond positively since it can reject the implant. When your mouth has healed, you return to the office, and we make a temporary crown. Several weeks later, you return to our office for the final placement of your permanent implant.
When you come to our office for the first visit, we will give you a local anesthetic so we can prepare the supporting teeth for the crown to be placed. Like completing a crown, we will remove any decay and old restorations from the supporting teeth. The goal is to ensure the two adjacent teeth are angled toward each other so we can slip the bridge over them.
We will then take impressions, allowing us to make a temporary bridge that will protect your mouth until your permanent bridge is ready. We send the impression off to the lab, and once the permanent bridge is complete, you will return to our office for the placement of the bridge.
This information may be overwhelming. Losing a tooth can be stressful. At Family Dentistry of Lakewood, we discuss all the available treatment options and answer any questions you may have. In addition, we discuss your specific situation and what procedure will be the most beneficial and successful for you. Contact us at 253.584.3121 to schedule an appointment if you are ready to discuss your options and get started replacing your missing tooth.