A dental bridge or implant are two options your dentist may suggest to you to replace a missing tooth, and each option has its advantages. Before you make a decision, read on to learn the differences between the two and discover which one may be best for you.
Dental Bridges and Implants
Dental bridges and implants are constructed differently. A bridge is made of a false tooth suspended between two crowns that the dentist cements onto prepared natural teeth on either side. An implant is a false tooth that's attached to a titanium post the periodontist or oral surgeon has inserted in the jaw bone. The false teeth and crowns in bridges and the false teeth in implants are matched to the color of the surrounding teeth, but, even so, a bridge may be slightly more noticeable. Unlike an implant, the false tooth of a bridge isn't embedded in the gum.
Restoring a Smile
The location of the missing tooth is important when deciding between a bridge or implant as a replacement. If you choose a bridge to replace a tooth toward the back of the mouth, it won't be visible when you smile. However, if the bridge is to replace a missing tooth at the front of your mouth, the effect may not look natural. The American Dental Association recommends implants for restoring a natural, attractive smile that looks like it's always has been that way.
Other Advantages of Implants
Implants also help prevent the jaw bone from deteriorating, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. When teeth fall out or are extracted, the jaw bone shrinks over time and changes the face's appearance and smile. An implant is embedded in the jaw bone, and using the new tooth to bite and chew stimulates the bone, helping to prevent it from shrinking. However, the false tooth in a dental bridge doesn't contact the jaw bone, so there may be bone loss.
Time and Cost Considerations
When choosing between a bridge or implant, time and cost may be important to you. Your dentist can provide a bridge over two visits within a few weeks, but if you opt for an implant the waiting time is longer — it takes three to six months for the jaw bone to grow around the titanium post of the implant. On the other hand, a dental bridge may be better for your budget.
Both bridges and implants should be cared for similarly, so they're comparable in that regard. For example, brush them twice a day with toothpaste, such as Colgate Total® Advanced Deep Clean Toothpaste, to keep them stain-free.
Needs vary from patient to patient when it comes to replacing a missing tooth. Your dentist can help you decide the best option for you. Whether you choose a bridge or implant, you can restore your happy, confident smile.