When it comes to replacing missing teeth, your most important decision will be a dental implant vs. a bridge. Dental bridges are one of the most traditional forms of tooth replacement. But depending on how many teeth need to be restored and the health of the tooth on either side, they may not always be the best solution. Today, the dental implant process is also more accessible, providing our Kansas City patients with another option to replace missing teeth.
Why Replace Missing Teeth?
Just one missing tooth can permanently alter the overall alignment and function of your smile. And several missing teeth can drastically change the way your face and jawline looks. When extra space is created by missing teeth, the surrounding teeth will begin to drift out of alignment. Some tilt inward, others “super” erupt out of the socket. And others crowd closer together.
As teeth drift out of place, the enamel begins to wear down in abnormal patterns. A natural tooth can fracture or develop sharp edges from the new way it bites against its partner. Over time, these changes can also impact the function of your TMJ, leading to long-term joint pain and headaches.
Replacing your lost tooth can help you continue biting, chewing, eating, and speaking normally. The key is to select a tooth replacement quickly before teeth start to shift. Your two main options are a dental bridge or a dental implant.
All of that being said, there’s also the self-consciousness caused by missing teeth. A permanent replacement can help you feel better about the way you look.
About Dental Bridges
For years, a dental bridge was the preferred tooth-replacement option. As long as the neighboring teeth on either side of the missing tooth were healthy (no active decay or periodontal disease), a patient would usually qualify.
Dental bridges use a pair of dental crowns to suspend an artificial replacement crown between them. Either end of the bridge is placed over a prepared natural tooth for support.
If you only need to replace one or two teeth, you may qualify for a bridge procedure. But only if the other teeth are healthy enough to support it. Anything much longer than that is usually not an option.
The Disadvantage of Dental Bridges
When you don’t want to wear removable false teeth like a partial, dental bridges are a great solution. However, there is one drawback to tooth bridges. They significantly impact the remaining tooth structure of your adjacent natural teeth. If those teeth are completely sound and do not require a restorative dental procedure, the bridge is essentially weakening two healthy teeth to support a false tooth. This scenario can weaken the adjacent teeth and reduce their overall lifetime. The only exception is if those natural teeth already need a protective dental crown because of previous decay, extensive dental work, or fractures.
About Dental Implants
Dental implants are a newer treatment option for people experiencing tooth loss. The implant is designed to mimic a tooth root that’s set directly into the bone next to adjacent teeth. The adjacent bone then integrates with the implant surface, fusing it permanently in place like a normal tooth root.
The risk of dental implant failure is extremely low, in fact, implants offer the highest success rate of any dental restoration.
After an implant is fully integrated into place, our Kansas City dentist cements or bonds a permanent restoration on top of it. In the case of a single missing tooth, that restoration would be a ceramic or porcelain crown.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Dental Implants
Dental implants offer significant advantages over bridges for two primary reasons. One, they are non-invasive to adjacent teeth. And two, they are designed to last for the rest of your life. Each one is made from hypoallergenic materials that are naturally accepted by your body, as they are extremely biocompatible.
A tooth implant can support the weight of more than one missing tooth. They are structurally more durable than a natural tooth is, which allows for an extremely high success rate when it comes to restoring your smile. You could almost say that having implants is the next best thing to healthy teeth.
When you compare dental implants versus bridges, dental implants offer the clear advantage for replacing missing teeth. However, there are some drawbacks. For one, you cannot qualify for dental implants if you have active gum disease in those locations. Or if there’s extensive bone loss without a bone graft.
Most people assume that implant cost is too high to afford, but they actually provide the best return on investment of any tooth replacement. Even if dental insurance doesn’t pay for the entire dental implant treatment, flexible payment options are available.
Combining Dental Implants and Bridges
A dental implant bridge is a multi-tooth restoration where we can use teeth implants to support a multi-tooth implant bridge. Since dental implants are extremely stable and capable of supporting intense amounts of pressure, our dental professionals can pair them together to support several artificial teeth. An implant bridge can easily replace 3-4 teeth at a time, if not more. Like a traditional dental bridge, implant bridges have one “tooth root” (implant) to support either end of the restoration.
With fixed bridges and implants working together, we expand the possibilities of dental implant therapy. For instance, full-arch restorations can replace all of your upper or lower teeth at one time. Pairing the implants together in sets of four or six provides more than enough support for a streamlined, extended dental bridge/hybrid denture.
Bridges and Implants in Kansas City
If you have missing teeth and are trying to decide between a bridge vs. implant, contact Gordon Dental. Our dental implant pros can help you enjoy the level of oral health you deserve thanks to advanced technology and dental surgery options. Even if you’ve thought that implants weren’t an option, that may not be the case. We will work closely with you to evaluate natural bone growth patterns and anatomy to select the best restorative plan for your smile’s future.
Contact our dentist office near Kansas City today to reserve an exam with Dr. Gordon.