Missing teeth can do more than make you feel self-conscious — they can also cause issues with your oral health. A gap in your mouth can cause problems such as difficulty eating and speaking, shifting teeth, and bone loss. You are also more susceptible to things like tooth decay and gum disease.
Because of the potential impact on your oral health, it is essential that you seek a replacement solution as soon as possible if you have one or more missing teeth.
Two of the most popular tooth replacement solutions are dental implants and dental bridges. Both solutions come with their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages, which can make choosing between the two difficult.
If you are looking to replace your missing teeth, it is important to explore the advantages that dental implants have over dental bridges.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a tooth replacement solution that involves the fusion of a titanium post to the jawbone, which is then used to support a natural-looking prosthetic tooth with the help of a metal abutment.
This method of replacing missing teeth is one of the most popular today because of the extra support and stability that the implant is able to receive from its fusion with the jawbone.
What Is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a tooth replacement solution that is capable of restoring one or more teeth at once. The bridge consists of a prosthetic tooth or teeth with a dental crown on either side of it. The surgeon fixes the dental crowns onto the existing teeth on either side of the gap to provide support to the false teeth.
While the traditional dental bridge may require two healthy teeth on either side of the toothless gap, there are other styles of bridges that do not. For example, the cantilever bridge gains its support from a single anchor tooth, and implant-supported bridges gain their support from dental implants.
Why Choose Dental Implants over a Dental Bridge?
While both options for replacing a missing tooth can provide relief and improved quality of life, dental implants offer a number of advantages over the dental bridge that may just make it the better solution.
Strength and Support
When it comes to strength and support, a dental implant is unmatched as a tooth replacement option. Because it is fused to the jawbone, an implant has a much more similar level of stability to a natural tooth than a dental bridge.
This makes the dental implant more durable and less likely to affect what you can and cannot eat.
One of the worst parts of tooth loss is the way it can impact your self-esteem. You may feel embarrassed to open your mouth in front of others. While any tooth replacement option can ease this discomfort, some options look more natural than others.
The option that best matches the look and feel of a natural tooth is the dental implant. A dental implant can look so natural you may not even be able to recognize it as a false tooth yourself.
Maintaining Bone Density
The roots of your teeth are responsible for stimulating bone growth in your jaw. When you lose a tooth, you also lose bone stimulation, and bone loss can subsequently occur.
If you go long enough without a tooth, the bone loss can become so significant that the structure of your face can begin to shift and change your appearance. Often, this change in appearance results in sagging skin and a prematurely aged look.
With a dental implant, you can avoid bone loss and the complications that can arise from it. Because the implant fuses with the jawbone, it acts like a tooth root and stimulates further growth. Dental bridges do not breach beneath the gum line and, therefore, cannot help you maintain bone density.
A well-maintained dental implant can last an impressively long time, with some estimates placing the lifespan of one at around 50 years.
In contrast, a dental bridge may only last a fraction of that time, with its average lifespan being somewhere around six to ten years. This discrepancy in the durability of the two gives implants a glaring advantage.
Compared to the dental bridge, the dental implant is more expensive in terms of upfront costs. However, in the long run, a dental implant can actually save you money due to the maintenance costs a dental bridge is likely to require.
For example, a dental implant is capable of lasting decades with proper care. On the other hand, even with proper care, a dental bridge may need to be replaced in a much shorter time frame.
When you are considering your budget for a tooth replacement procedure, it is important to consider the long-term costs of each option. Factors like maintenance, durability and the need for replacement play a large role in the final price.