Dental Bridges vs Implants
When you have missing or extracted teeth, restoring function can be as easy as getting dental bridges vs Implants. Roughly 6.4% of Canadians between 20 and 79 reported having no teeth of their own, but far more people are missing one or more teeth. As one of the main ways to “fill in the gaps,” your dentist will discuss the best option of fixed bridges vs implants for your situation.
Who Can Benefit from Dental Bridges?
Anyone with missing teeth may be a good candidate for a bridge. The key thing that the dentist will look for when determining if a bridge is a good choice is whether you have healthy teeth that can support the bridge. If your dentist finds that a dental bridge isn’t an option for you, implants or dentures may be recommended. The bridge is cemented in place and requires crowns be placed on either side of the missing tooth, which act a support for the bridge.
Why Replacing Missing Teeth is Important
If you’ve lost a tooth or two, you may still be able to chew your food, eat properly and have no issues with your speech. But your teeth work together and are not meant to be missing. The teeth on the jaw opposite of where the missing tooth is located can start to move toward the space left by the missing tooth.
When teeth start moving toward the missing tooth gap, this can cause:
- Difficulty chewing
- Excess stress on your jaw and teeth
- A need for Invisalign or orthodontics
- Self-esteem issues
Dental bridges will help keep these spaces filled so that you never have to worry about the above issues occurring.
Types of Dental Bridges
Most bridges involve placing crowns on each of the teeth surrounding the gap left behind by the missing tooth. These teeth are considered anchoring teeth and will support the bridge. When you smile, your teeth will look real and natural.
Our staff may recommend multiple types of dental bridges, including:
- Traditional. A fixed bridge. This option is the most popular and includes using two or more crowns to add in any filler teeth. The crowns keep the bridge in place.
- Implant-supported. If there are no supporting teeth or there’s a reason not to use existing teeth as a crown, implants can be used in their place using a procedure similar to the traditional crown.
- Maryland dental bridge. A resin-bonded bridge, this option is most popular when you have missing front teeth. The Maryland bridge uses a framework for support that has “wings” on the side to bond to your existing teeth.
- Cantilever. If teeth are only present on one side of the tooth gap, a cantilever bridge is an option. This bridge requires a pontic, which connects the bridge to one tooth rather than two.
Your dentist will spend time discussing the best bridge option for you. The right bridge will help restore your smile and reduce the risk of surrounding teeth moving towards the gap left behind
Multiple materials may be used to construct your dental bridge, including ceramics, metal or a metal/porcelain mix.
What if You’re Not a Good Candidate for Dental Bridges?
Dental bridges may not be the best option for you, but there are other options to help restore your smile. A few of the options that your dentist will consider if bridges aren’t an option include:
- Dentures, which are removable false teeth and often the least expensive option.
- Dental implants, which are permanent.
Implants are one of the most expensive choices when restoring lost teeth, but they’re also one of the most natural options. The dentist will take a model of your teeth, which is then sent to a dental lab so that they can create teeth that match your existing teeth and fit your dental structure.
The implantation process requires posts to be surgically implanted into your jaw.
The implant will, eventually, integrate with your jawbone and be connected to your existing teeth. You don’t need supporting teeth to have implants placed.
Dental Bridge Procedure Information
In most cases, you’ll need to go to the dentist twice (possibly more) to have the bridge created and installed properly. We may also suggest teeth whitening prior to your first visit. Your appointments will involve the following:
The first visit will involve the dentist preparing your abutment teeth. Your teeth will need to be prepared for your crowns, and this includes reshaping the abutment and possibly removing some of the dentin and enamel.
Your dentist will make sure that there’s ample room for the bridge once it’s created.
Once this procedure is done, the dentist will then take impressions or scans of your teeth. These scans or impressions are vital because they’ll be sent to a dental lab, which uses the scans or impressions to create the bridge, crowns and false teeth.
While you’re awaiting the final bridge, a temporary bridge is placed to protect the exposed areas of the mouth.
Your second visit is where the “magic” happens. The temporary bridge will be removed, and the permanent bridge will be put in place. You can expect your dentist to make several adjustments to ensure that the bridge fits properly.
Benefits of a Dental Bridge
Missing teeth can cause oral issues that go beyond aesthetics. Dental bridges offer numerous benefits, including but not limited to:
- Restoring your smile and confidence
- Preventing your existing teeth from moving out of place
- Restoring any lost speech or chewing ability
- Providing protection for root canaled teeth
And when compared to dental implants, bridges are the most affordable option.
Dental Bridge Risks
Dental bridges have a lot of advantages, but they’re not without risks. The bridge that you have placed will need to be cleaned and cared for to last a long time. If you don’t care for the bridge properly, it will need to be replaced prematurely.
New cement may be used to re-attach a bridge if it starts to loosen and the crowns are still in good condition.
The main risks of dental bridges are:
- Cement deterioration that leads to loosening
- Surrounding tooth decay
It's important to follow a recommend oral hygiene routine to keep surrounding teeth healthy. If you care for your teeth and bridge properly, they can last 5 to 7 years at a minimum. Regular cleanings and dental care can extend the lifespan of your bridge to 10+ years and prevent any dental emergencies.
Dental Bridge FAQs
When having a bridge placed, the most common questions are:
Is it hard to eat with a bridge?
No. Oftentimes, people find dental bridges help make eating easier.
Do dental bridges impact speech?
Yes, but only in the case where your front teeth are missing. The bridge can help restore speech when front teeth are missing.
How do I care for dental bridges?
Care is easy. You'll want to follow a general oral hygiene routine, such as brushing your teeth two or more times daily and flossing. The health of your supporting teeth is key to long-lasting dental bridges.
Regular teeth cleanings and dental care can also help extend the lifespan of your dental bridge.
When should I contact a dentist if I have issues with my bridge?
If your bite doesn’t feel right or chewing suddenly becomes difficult, small adjustments can be made by the dentist that can correct the issue. You should contact a dentist or healthcare professional immediately if you notice bleeding from the bridge, swelling or experience pain.
Dental Bridges vs Implants
If you’re considering a bridge or implant, it’s important to know the pros and cons of each before making your decision:
Dental Bridge Pros and Cons
A few pros of bridges are:
- Doesn't require surgery
- Requires just two dental visits in most cases
- Insurance more likely to cover the costs
- Replacement could be as soon as 5 to 7 years
- Surrounding teeth can be damaged
- Looks less natural over time
Dental Implant Pros and Cons
Implant pros include:
- Lasts 15 or more years
- Surrounding teeth are not damaged
- Retains a natural appearance
Over a 10-year period, over 97% of implants are a success. Even with this high rate of success, there are a few cons to consider:
- High upfront cost
- Long process to implant
- Insurance won’t cover the cost in most cases
Dental bridges are a great option for anyone with missing teeth who wants to restore their normal smile and prevent the risk of opposing teeth moving towards the gap left from missing teeth.
Call us today to book an appointment.