Dental implant FAQs
Dental Bridges Vs Implants
Whether you’ve had a nasty accident involving the loss of a tooth or you need to have one surgically removed for dental reasons, you will have to decide whether you opt for a fixed dental bridge or an implant to replace the missing tooth.
There’s no doubt that the technology involved in the replacement of missing or extracted teeth has come on leaps and bounds, even since the turn of the Millennium. But if you’re uncertain whether a dental bridge or an implant is the right treatment option for you, read on as we discuss the pros and cons for both types of procedure.
The benefits of fixed dental bridges
A fixed dental bridge attaches to the teeth on either side of your gap, or on one side of the gap to act as an anchor on the missing tooth. The teeth either side of the gap – known as the abutment teeth – have their enamel layer stripped back and replaced by crowns, onto which the false tooth (pontic) is attached.
Here are some of the advantages of fitting a dental bridge to fill your missing tooth:
- Involves no surgery – can be fitted during a straightforward dental procedure
- A functional and reliable solution
- Can be fitted within approximately two to three visits to your dentist
- Highly recommended in the event of jaw bone loss or significant damage
- Minor pain experienced during fitting
The drawbacks of a fixed dental bridge
- Dental crowns and bridges must be replaced every 10 to 15 years
- If the abutment teeth already have crowns they must be re-crowned prior to the fitting of a dental bridge
- Potential for tooth decay and gum disease is still rife
- If nerve endings are affected by tooth loss root canal treatment may be necessary prior to the fitting of a dental bridge
- Additional oral hygiene is necessary due to design challenges
The benefits of dental implants
A dental implant is regarded as the most forward-thinking way of replacing missing teeth. It’s the most natural treatment in terms of appearance and offers a permanent solution. The process involves your dentist replacing just the missing tooth with an implant – often made of titanium – into the bone of your jaw. This acts as an artificial root that can hold a false tooth in place over the top.
The numerous advantages of dental implant surgery include:
- A highly functional and reliable solution that could solve the problem for life
- Same day dental implants are possible providing there is sufficient gum and bone support
- The treatment does not affect your adjacent teeth in any way
- A dental implant is less susceptible to decay or gum disease
- Dentists can make final teeth over an implant look just like your natural enamel
- Multiple implants can be fitted in the same surgical procedure, if necessary
The drawbacks of dental implants
- The process requires more planning and preparation time due to the sophistication of the surgery
- Requires minor surgery
- Healing time is necessary after surgery before the permanent tooth replacement is fitted
- Large initial outlay but more cost-effective in the long term than a dental bridge
You’ve also got to consider the day-to-day effects of having either a dental bridge or implant. In terms of keeping your new teeth clean, it’s very simple to floss between implants. Also note that dental implants make it easy to eat and chew your food; dental bridges have a tendency to slip over time with regular use, resulting in another trip to the dentist!
Hopefully this article will prove useful during your decision making process between a dental bridge and a dental implant. If you’re still unsure what’s best for your teeth, be sure to consult with your dentist. They will be able to give you their professional opinion having looked after your teeth for a number of years.
Did you know?
At Dental Care Plus we offer dental implant clinical assessments with a qualified and experienced implant dentist. Within your 50-minute appointment your medical history will be reviewed and they will carry out a thorough oral examination, including your gums and oral hygiene. They will also take appropriate 3D CT scans and x-rays.
Our clinicians can determine a definitive treatment plan to give you a reassuring roadmap to long-term dental health.
Care of Bridges
One of the primary risks to a bridge arises from food becoming trapped in between it and the adjoining teeth. According to the AAID (American Academy of Implant Dentistry), it might be difficult to clean this area with dental floss; consequently the area around the bridge may begin to decay if it is not adequately cleaned. We recommend Waterpik™ as the most effective system to clean underneath bridges, in so doing, increasing the bridges longevity.
We recommend using a specific flossing system which is designed to access areas which are difficult to clean with traditional dental floss. The more effectively these areas are kept clean and free from plaque, the more likely it is that your bridgework and the adjoining teeth will continue to stay healthy for as long as ten years. It is highly recommend that individuals with bridgework should have dental hygiene sessions about every 6 months and avoid foods with a high sugar content, as this can result in decay which may spread to the healthy natural teeth. Again, Waterpik™ is recommended as the best device for effectively cleaning under dental bridges.
Types of Bridges
There are 4 main types of dental bridges:
- Conventional, where a false tooth is attached to crowns which are fixed on the neighbouring teeth.
- Cantilever, where there is a natural tooth only on one of the sides of the missing tooth; this will compromise the integrity of the adjacent tooth by weakening it significantly.
- Maryland bonded bridges, when a metal framework is used to support the false teeth.
- Implant-supported bridges, which are very similar to a conventional bridge, but instead of being supported by natural teeth the bridge is supported by dental implants. The Implants have the added benefit of also helping to prevent bone loss.
The conventional bridge is the most popular and strongest option, whilst a Maryland bridge requires less tooth preparation but is also the weakest of the four different types. In addition, the material which the bridge is made from can determine its strength and affect its longevity; gold bridges offer the highest level of strength, and bridges made of ceramic materials are the weakest choice but do offer the most natural appearance.
Following the initial healing period, there are two main factors that affect the length of time a dental bridge will last. How well you maintain the dental bridge and how well you keep the surrounding teeth free from plaque, preventing tooth decay. To look after your dental bridge it is very important to avoid anything which may damage the bridgework, this includes hard foods which are difficult to eat. It is also important to avoid foods which are high in sugar, the very foods which may have previously contributed to the dental problems resulting in the need for a dental bridge in the first place.