Washington DC dental patients who have lost a single tooth or several can choose replacement options that include dental implants or dental bridges. Both offer a cosmetic solution for missing teeth, as well as the functional problems that the gaps they leave can cause. However, there are significant differences between the two. Here we’ll delve into the details of these teeth replacement options, including the pros and cons of each one.
About Dental Implants Washington, DC
Replacing a missing tooth via dental implant restoration involves the surgical placement of a tiny titanium cylinder into the jawbone, which will bond with its bone tissue to form an artificial tooth root. After a healing period to allow that bonding process to occur, an abutment is attached to the implant, onto which an artificial tooth will be mounted. The result is a dental restoration that is structured much like the original, natural tooth – with a root, securely anchored by the jawbone, holding a natural-looking crown.
About Dental Bridges
Fixed dental bridges are a dental appliance that is typically made up of two crowns, between which are placed one or more artificial teeth to fill in the gap left by missing teeth. The crowns are fitted onto natural teeth on each side of that gap. The result is a fixed dental restoration, supported by adjacent natural teeth, that closes the gap, restoring appearance and improving oral function.
Dental Implant Vs. Bridge Pros and Cons
Perhaps the most important pro of dental implant restoration is the protection it offers against bone loss in the jaw, the artificial tooth root providing the stimulation the jaw needs to remain strong and healthy. Avoiding bone resorption offers benefits for oral health and structure, as well as appearance, since a shrinking jawbone can cause premature facial aging. Other advantages of dental implants include superior aesthetics and oral function as compared to other options, and much better longevity, with the average implant lasting 25 years, and many, given good oral hygiene and care, lasting a lifetime.
Potential cons of dental implants include a longer restoration process than many other teeth replacement options, since dental implant restoration is typically done in stages that may span several months. Additionally, oral surgery is required for this type of dental restoration, and initial costs are typically higher than those of bridge placement.
Among the pros of fixed dental bridges is that they are a quick means of replacing missing teeth, generally taking just two dental visits for preparation and placement. Also, they are fairly economical in terms of initial costs.
Cons of bridge use include the fact that they only replace the crown – or visible portion of a missing tooth – and therefore offer no protection against bone loss. Resorption of bone tissue beneath a bridge often leads to instability over time, which contributes to their shorter lifespan – the average bridge will need replacement every 7 to 10 years. Additionally, to place a bridge, the adjacent natural teeth that must support it are reshaped and crowned, a process that can weaken their structure, making them more vulnerable to decay or more apt to be damaged by the stress of supporting a bridge.
All-in-all, as Washington DC dental professionals will tell you, dental implants are the better choice in for tooth replacement in most cases, offering advantages in terms of long-term oral health and function, appearance and comfort that no other option can. However, if dental implants are not an option for you, dental bridges can provide an adequate alternative for replacing missing teeth.
If you are ready to schedule a consultation with one of our oral surgeons, contact our office in the Washington, DC area at (202) 386-7100.