Your face is recognized as a symbol of “self” and a smile as a reflection of your own personality. Your teeth play an important role in the maintenance of a positive self-image. Any loss of teeth may result in significant disabilities that can deeply affect your social life. A lost tooth is always a big concern that drains your self-confidence. Your smile, your words, your actions, everything lacks in confidence. A gap left behind by the lost tooth room should not reflect on your radiant persona anymore. Thus, the need to replace lost teeth with a near-natural substitute has encouraged rapid advancements in the field of dentistry. Today, many forms and types of tooth replacement methods are available, among which the dental bridge and implant have emerged as the most sought after method for permanent tooth replacement.
What is Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge looks like a bridge with two crowns at each end holding a single or multiple false teeth. These are placed over the teeth adjacent to the gap after preparing.
What are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is an artificial root that is surgically inserted into the jawbone to support a single tooth replacement (crown), or other types of dental prosthesis. Implants can be used to replace single or multiple teeth and they function more or less like natural teeth itself.
Dental Implants Vs Bridge – Which one is better for you?? It has been long debated as to which method serves the best purpose for tooth replacements and various researchers have shown that dental implants can be considered as a near-natural successor for the lost tooth. This is because they replace the missing tooth, form a stable foundation for the replaced tooth and look, feel, and function very much like the natural tooth. So in today’s world, a Dental implant stands as the top candidate as the preferred method of tooth replacement.
What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants Over Bridges?
- Better aesthetics– Dental implants have a very life-like appearance, as they look and feel just like your natural teeth. It has been seen that at the early stages of post-treatment, both bridge and implant give similar aesthetic results. However, with time, the results come out to be different and much better for the implant. They give you your lost confidence to smile, eat, and carry out your day to day social life without worrying about how they look. No one will know that you have a replacement for a lost tooth!!
- Less invasive procedure: Usually to establish bridgework, the teeth on the either side of the missing tooth will be ground down and crowns will be placed over the teeth. A well-made bridge can look extremely natural and might be a good choice for you if the teeth on the either side of the missing teeth also need to be crowned. Otherwise, you may have to get perfectly health teeth ground down to make space for the bridge. This is not an idealistic process as it can destroy even healthy teeth in the process. It also means that these teeth will always need crowns. Instead, a Dental implant serves a better long-term alternative to a bridge, as they eliminate the need to grind the adjacent healthy teeth when replacing one or more teeth. Your own natural teeth are not at all compromised.
- Biocompatibility: Dental implant is the only method of tooth replacement that does not have any negative effect on the surrounding teeth and tissue structures. Dental implants keep the rest of your teeth in the proper positions and as when gaps are left between teeth, they begin to shift. The inert material, i.e. titanium which is used as the implant material provides further comfort to the oral structures.
- Maintains natural anatomy and reduce bone loss: If you have missing teeth, the bone begins to shrink over time. Excessive bone resorption can make your jawline recede and even modify your facial structure. Dental implants can help prevent this so that your face can retain its natural shape. Dental implants preserve the natural tooth tissue by avoiding the need to trim and prepare the adjacent teeth for bridgework. They also reduce bone resorption and destruction that results in loss of jawbone height, thus, preserving the jaw bone. Whereas a bridge may later cause bone resorption in the area of the missing tooth. This leads to a recession around the adjacent teeth. This continued destruction of the tooth structures can lead to bone fractures, tooth mobility, and associated infections to adjacent teeth.
- Improved function: Dental implants are anchored in your jaw bone just like natural teeth. They help restore your jawbone structure because they reduce the load on the remaining oral structures/teeth and preserve natural tooth tissue and reduce bone resorption and deterioration that results in loss of jawbone height. Over time they help to preserve the jaw bone and by preventing a significant amount of bone loss. By replacing your missing teeth with implants you can chew your food better and speak more clearly. With good maintenance, patients should not be able to tell the difference between their dental implant and their other teeth. It means that there are absolutely no restrictions on what the patient can eat, from vegetarian to non-vegetarian or very sticky food.
- Longevity: The longevity of both bridge and implant depends on proper post-procedure care and maintenance of oral hygiene. With proper care and maintenance, dental implants can last for a lifetime with predictable outcomes. A well planned dental implant will generally offer ‘survival rates’ comparable or even better than other teeth replacement methods. As implant technology improves, so should the implant success rate. People in good health always seem to have a better chance for successful implants. Bridges, however, have to be replaced after a period of time. Patients usually come in because their bridge has become loose or has fallen out completely. Sometimes the bridge can be recemented back but, in other cases, the bridge is too old to save and we have to replace it usually after a period of 5-10 years.
- Cost-effective: A dental bridge is cheaper than a dental implant but, in the long run, it will undoubtedly be more expensive and more time-consuming. If you decide to get a bridge, you will be spending more of your time and money than is necessary. On average, a dental bridge does not last longer than a decade. The cement that holds the crowns in place is strong but susceptible to wear over time. After a while, it wears away enough that the crowns can come off. The crowns can be recemented but, in the process of a bridge coming off, it often becomes damaged. This means the patient has to get another bridge made which means spending more money. Dental implants, on the other hand, are there to stay. If an experienced dentist places the implant, the chances of ever needing to replace it are extremely slim. The materials dental implants are made of are meant to last for a long, long time.
- Immediate Implant Placement: Tooth fractures, severe dental decay, blocked root canals, and other conditions can prevent the successful completion of root canal treatment. Fortunately, if this is anticipated, it is possible to remove the tooth and immediately replace it with an implant. This process is called as an “Immediate Implant”.
It can be rightly said that even though dental implants take a little longer time for placement, the results last for decades or even for a lifetime, so it can be considered as the best long-term method of tooth replacement and quite probably the most cost-effective. More and more people should be encouraged to opt for the placement of the dental implant for the replacement of missing teeth.