When it comes to tooth replacement, dental implants and dental bridges are two of the most popular options. Both can work to fill gaps in your smile, but the two methods have clear differences.
If you’re trying to decide between tooth implants and a fixed bridge, consult with an experienced oral surgeon for expert advice. In many cases, dental implants are the preferable tooth replacement option, but no single solution is right for every patient.
Impact on Neighboring Teeth
Dental implants don’t have any effect on your other teeth — they’re fully supported by titanium roots placed within the gums of the empty tooth sockets.
To anchor a dental bridge, on the other hand, an oral surgeon must typically drill away some of your teeth’s enamel on either side of the empty socket. This can increase the likelihood of both oral infection and tooth decay.
Effect on Jawbone Structure
When a tooth is extracted or lost, the bone that held it in place begins to degenerate — unless a dental implant is placed. Implants act as replacement tooth roots, so they give the jawbone the stimulation it needs to stay strong.
Dental bridges do nothing to prevent bone loss in the jaw. Over time, as your jawbone shrinks, you could end up looking years older than you really are due to facial collapse.
With proper care — routine daily brushing and flossing, along with regular preventive care — dental implants can last a lifetime.
This is not the case with a fixed bridge. The average life span is only about 10 years, but decay in the teeth supporting the bridgework can lead to earlier replacement.
Dental implants are designed to be a perfect match in size, shape and color to your natural teeth. When placed by an experienced oral surgeon, tooth implants are virtually undetectable.
A well-designed fixed bridge can also match nicely, however, and most patients are pleased with the results. However, without expert skill, dental bridges can be noticeable.
In terms of initial cost, dental bridges are less expensive than dental implants. When you consider the bigger picture, however, implants are often more cost-effective.
Once placed, tooth implants are permanent. This means you only have to budget for the procedure one time. Dental bridges don’t last nearly as long. Depending upon your age, you could have to pay for new bridgework several times.
The best way to make a wise decision about filling the gaps in your smile is to consult with your oral surgeon. If you live in the greater Salt Lake City area, the professionals at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah can offer expert advice on all your tooth replacement options.
Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield, our highly experienced, board-certified oral surgeons, specialize in tooth restoration and implant surgery. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office today to schedule a consultation to compare the merits of dental bridges and dental implants for your tooth replacement needs.