Simply put, dental implants are titanium posts that are placed in the jaw bone to replace the root of a missing tooth. The post is coated with a material that attracts bone and within 3 to 6 months the jawbone becomes fuzed to the dental implant making it a very strong replacement for your tooth.
Once the post is fuzed to the bone, the dentist is able to place a crown over the post to replicate the visible portion of the tooth that was lost.
The difference between a bridge and an implant to replace a missing tooth:
Dental implants are fast becoming the standard of care and have offered a well established and predictable treatment since the early 1980s but there are options and one of these is the fixed bridge. It costs about the same as the dental implant and crown if no extra procedures are involved but the long term value could be very different.
A 3-crown bridge to replace a missing tooth involves grinding down the teeth on either side of the gap to support the new bridge. If these teeth are healthy, or virgin teeth, then we are prematurely aging them. By grinding them down, we are exposing them to more dental work, possibly decay or root canal work in the future. If one of the supporting teeth of the bridge fail in the future, the entire bridge is lost.
The issue though, isn’t black and white. One of the supporting teeth of the bridge may need to be reinforced with a crown. It may then be worthwhile to make a bridge.
A bridge is also more difficult to clean than 3 independent teeth. So if you’re having trouble keeping your teeth clean and are susceptible to decay, it may be a wise choice to invest in a dental implant.
It’s very important to replace teeth as you lose them. When less teeth are used to chew, it makes the remaining teeth work harder and deteriorate faster. Also, once a tooth is lost, your bite begins to collapse. With time, as more teeth are lost, the lower half of your face becomes shorter and your chin starts to protrude, giving you a much older appearance.
Keep in mind that if you choose a certain less expensive option to replace a tooth today, it will probably be possible to select a different treatment in the future when budget permits. Just ask your dentist!
Your style begins with your smile!