Missing teeth affect your smile and make a dent in your confidence. But a missing tooth doesn't just look bad- without the chewing and the stimulation, the gum can start receding and the jawbone can begin to deteriorate. So, for whatever reason you are missing a tooth or a number of teeth, it's important to get it replaced with artificial teeth as soon as you can. But once you have decided to fix your missing teeth, you may find yourself wondering- should I get a bridge or an implant? While there are many available choices to fix missing teeth, bridges and implants are two of the most popular options. And even though they address the same challenges, these are two very different options.
A few factors can help influence that decision of yours. In this blog, we discuss these factors and how they can help you make the right decision so you get what’s right for you.
Number of Missing Teeth
The right choice also depends on how many teeth you are missing. If it's more than one, a bridge would be better for you because with implants, you would have to get a separate implant surgically attached to your jawbone for each missing tooth, which would also end up being very expensive.
Not everyone is a great candidate for every procedure. With things like surgery, you need to keep your medical conditions in mind. Since implants need surgery, and conditions like diabetes and leukemia can slow down healing, implants may not be the best option for you. You also need to have enough bone density to be able to get implants. So if you suffer from bone loss, you might have to find something else, like a bridge, which uses the adjacent teeth to hold the bridge in place.
Even though the implant surgery only takes 1-2 hours per implant, with the healing and waiting, the whole process can take anywhere from 3 to 8 months. You will also need to wear a temporary denture while you wait for the bone to heal so you can get the crown. If that is something you don't see yourself doing, you should get a bridge- you can get it installed in 2 visits to the dentists over a couple of weeks.
A dental bridge is considerably cheaper than an implant. While a bridge can cost between 6000 and 20,000, a single implant can cost between 25,000 and 50,000.
Although a bridge is cheaper, an implant will last longer. A bridge can last between 5 and 7 years, but an implant can last between 20 and 30 years, which can easily be a lifetime for some people.
Impact on adjacent teeth
Since an implant is self-standing, it won't affect the surrounding teeth as much. This is a big advantage of an implant. It replaces the root structure of the missing tooth and supports the new crown. With bridges, two adjacent teeth are used to hold down the bridge. And they need to be in a good enough condition for a bridge to be placed in. This means that these two perfectly normal teeth will regardless need to be prepared by removing a little enamel to help fit the crowns. This is a permanent move. Removing a certain amount of tooth structure can also weaken the tooth and possibly lead to decay, damage, and root canals down the road. With continued destruction, the tooth may start to become mobile, and this may lead to fractures and infections. And if the continued infection and bone loss become too much, it may leave no other option but to remove the infected tooth. Then, you’d have to prepare more adjacent teeth to get a bigger bridge, and the cycle continues.
An implant prevents further bone loss and stabilizes and maintains healthy gum tissue. It maintains the area just like a natural tooth would. With a bridge, there can be bone loss where one or more teeth are missing, and this can then lead to loss of gum tissue, and bone loss around the adjacent tooth as well.
An implant is cared for like a natural tooth, there’s no extra maintenance required. With a bridge, since all the teeth in the bridge are connected, that makes it a little harder to floss and clean. And if you don't clean it properly, cavities may form.
Even though a bridge has a few glaringly obvious disadvantages, sometimes, an implant may be the best option for you. Ultimately, using these 8 pointers, you have to decide what’s best for you.
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