Most people take good care of their teeth and can rely on keeping them for a lifetime, but sometimes cavities or an injury results in the loss of a tooth. Because all teeth are important for eating, speaking and overall health, we at Dental Health Associates advise that missing teeth be replaced. Dental bridges and dental implants are two options we use for those who have lost a tooth and this article explains the difference between the two procedures.
For those who would like a replacement that looks and feels much like a natural tooth, the dental implant is a great option. A dental implant is a prosthetic that is implanted into the bone of your jaw and then capped with a high quality crown that looks like a natural tooth. Dental implants often last longer than natural teeth as they are not prone to decay, although they can be damaged by injury.
Dental implants require a minor surgery that allows the dentist to secure a metal shaft into the jawbone which will hold the crown. Your jawbone will regrow around the shaft to make it secure, much like the roots of a normal tooth. Once the crown is secured onto the shaft, you should not notice the implant at all.
Dental implants do have a unique advantage over other tooth replacement options. Because the implant is inserted into the bone of the jaw, it helps keep your gums healthy. By reducing bone loss, an implant also helps keep surrounding teeth healthy.
Dental bridges are another option for those with a missing tooth. A dental bridge is a structure that bridges the gap by modifying other teeth to support a framework of crowns. This framework gives the appearance of a normal tooth being in place. A bridge can last several years and special care needs to be taken to keep it clean, along with the surrounding, natural teeth.
When you decide to replace a missing tooth with a bridge, the dentist must examine the teeth surrounding the gap to make sure those teeth can support the bridge. A tooth that has large amounts of decay or cracks may not be suitable. Once the dentist is satisfied that the surrounding teeth are healthy, those teeth are then prepped for the process. Their crowns are ground down and impressions are made so that the bridge can be created in the lab. Temporary crowns are placed over the prepared teeth to protect them from further damage.
Once the lab has created the bridge, the dentist can then place the bridge in the patient’s mouth. To do so, the temporary crowns are removed and the prepped teeth are gently cleaned to remove the temporary cement. The bridge is placed on the teeth to ensure a proper fit. A bonding agent is applied to the crown and the bridge is secured. Bridges are a great, lower cost option for those with missing teeth. While it is not permanent, it should last many years.
If you have a missing tooth, please know that there are options to correct this. With help from the professional staff at DHA, you can choose the option that is best for you. Please let us know if you have any questions about these procedures or any of our other dental services.