The science of dentistry has advanced significantly in the last 30 years. Patients who are missing teeth now have several great options available to restore their smiles. Dental implants and bridges are a solution that has increased in popularity in recent years. But what’s the difference between a dental bridge vs. implant? And which option is right for you?
Most dentists including Dr. Donna Vagnozzi-Bucci of Family & Spa Dentistry of Pennington, NJ prefer implants due to their strength, longevity and ease of care. However, you and your dentist need to consider numerous factors, including if your tooth loss is recent or happened years ago.
Practical Reasons for Both
In the past, a bridge was the only choice available choice for restoring a smile without dentures. But a bridge does involve more changes than just replacing the missing tooth. The adjacent teeth on either side of the gap need to be prepared by removing most of the enamel in order to attach the bridge, anchoring it to these teeth. With dental implants, Dr. Vagnozzi-Bucci embeds the replacement tooth directly into the jawbone resulting in a tooth that is stronger and permanent. Nonetheless, Dr. Vagnozzi-Bucci may prefer a bridge if the neighboring teeth have large fillings and need crowns or caps in the future. If the tooth or teeth were lost a long time ago, the gum and bone will have receded and bone grafts may be needed before the jaw can properly support implants. The advantages and disadvantages to both procedures can ultimately be discussed with Dr. Vagnozzi-Bucci.
Your Oral Care Routine
Your ability to keep your mouth clean and healthy will be simpler with an implant. Dental bridges are permanently attached in the mouth but they involve at least three crowns connected together to fill the space of the missing tooth and to support the bridge over that empty space where the tooth is being replaced. The nature of the bridge design creates challenges when brushing and flossing, so it is important to be meticulous when cleaning.
For example, flossing 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 the neighboring teeth. You can brush and floss around an implant just as you would your natural tooth, making oral hygiene much simpler 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, bonding to the bone and promoting new growth and renewal. Because it’s comprised of such strong material, the implant is mostly resistant to decay.
If a dental implant is properly cared for, the implant screw 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 life of a dental bridge, is approximately 10 years at which point the entire bridge will need to be replacing. Also, because the structure of your natural tooth remains beneath it, normal wear may cause the bridge over time as the remaining tooth structures continue to be susceptible to decay and gum disease.
The cost of the dental bridge is less initially, but that bridge will need to be replaced at some point in the future. While implants may seem more expensive, they can actually save you money over time because they do not ever require replacement of the implant screw — only the crown needs to be replaced periodically. Fortunately, many dental insurance providers will now pay for some or all of the steps involved in the implant process.
Dental Implants in Pennington, NJ
Both options are better than living your life being afraid to smile because you are self-conscious about a missing tooth or having difficulty chewing. Dr. Vagnozzi-Bucci of Family & Spa Dentistry of Pennington, NJ is a skilled professional with 25 years in practice. For a consultation with Dr. Vagnozzi-Bucci or one of her associates about dental implants or any other dental concern, please call (609) 303-3058 or schedule a consultation online today!