There are many reasons a tooth may have to be extracted: severe decay, infection, or irreparable damage. While pulling a tooth is never ideal, there is good news. Modern dentistry provides several different options for replacing your tooth. Two of the most popular options for replacing a missing tooth (or teeth) are bridges and implants. What is the difference between the two, and which one is right for you?
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is one option for replacing a missing tooth. As the name suggests, a dental implant is surgically implanted into your jaw, and it consists of three parts:
- The post: Usually made of titanium, this is a strong post that acts as a prosthetic tooth root. The titanium fuses to your jaw bone, creating a sturdy foundation.
- The abutment: This piece connects the post to the crown.
- The crown: This is the cap or the artificial tooth.
Dental implants are very sturdy thanks to the biocompatible nature of titanium. Biocompatible means the titanium fuses naturally. Other pros include:
- Aesthetics: Dental implants can enhance the appearance of your smile
- Ease of cleaning: It is very easy to clean an implant. They do not need to be removed or soaked. Simply brush and floss as you would a natural tooth.
- Long lasting
- Helps maintain jaw bone
- Versatile: You can receive as many or as few implants as you need so this is a suitable option if you have missing teeth in opposite parts of your mouth
- Surgery is required to implant the post
- A bone graft is required if you do not have enough bone
What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is a dental appliance that quite literally “bridges” the gap between missing teeth. A dental bridge consists of two crowns and a pontic(s). The crowns are placed on either side of the missing tooth, and the crowns support the pontic. The pontic is the prosthetic tooth that replaces the missing tooth. Essentially, the missing tooth is replaced by a prosthetic tooth that is supported by the teeth on either side of the gap.
- No surgery required
- Less expensive than a dental implant
- Suitable for one to three missing teeth
- If you have more than three missing teeth, a bridge is not an ideal solution
- Harder to clean, especially flossing around or under the bridge
- Healthy teeth must be prepped to accommodate the bridge
- May contribute to jaw bone deterioration since nothing (i.e., tooth root or implant post ) is stimulating the bone
How do you know which option is best for you?
Dental implants and bridges are two popular tooth replacement options. Both are accepted by the American Dental Associations, but it is your individual dentist who can help you determine which method is right for you. For instance, if you cannot have surgery or don’t have enough healthy jaw bone, your dentist may suggest a dental bridge for you. On the other hand, if only have one missing tooth and have adequate bone, your dentist may suggest an implant.
When to see the dentist
If you have a missing tooth and would like to learn more about your replacement options, contact us today!