Our natural teeth are precious, and we should always do our best to take care of them by brushing, flossing, and getting regular checkups at the dentist. But sometimes they’re lost, either due to caries or fractures. With the loss of teeth, their functions are also lost, as the patient may feel difficulty pronouncing certain letters or chewing certain foods, and no one can deny that esthetics are massively affected. Nowadays, we can replace lost teeth with many procedures; the most popular tooth replacements are bridges and implants.
What Is A Bridge?
A dental bridge is a tooth replacement known as a pontic, which is made of resin or porcelain and is held in place by two adjacent teeth, known as abutments. At your first visit, the dentist reduces the adjacent teeth to prepare them, then takes an impression of the preparation and places a temporary bridge. Then, on the next visit, the dentist cements the bridge in place and checks that the bite is correct and comfortable.
What Is An Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root made of titanium, and is anchored in the jaw bone in place of the missing tooth. The procedure is done in two stages. At the first visit, the dentist places the implant under local anesthetic and may also place a healing abutment on top to produce the desired emergence profile. During the second visit, which is after 4-6 months to allow for proper osseointegration, the dentist places the crown, and the implant is now ready to function.
What Is The Difference Between Implant And Bridge?
Both are ways of replacing teeth, and we can’t say that one of them is better than the other, as every choice has its pros and cons. Keep in mind that costs are variable and may differ according to the material used, the type of implant or bridge, and the extensiveness of the procedure needed. Remember that the decision to place a bridge or implant should be made by you and your dentist, as the dentist is the one who can know if that tooth replacement method is suitable for you or not.
Dental bridge pros:
-They have lower costs than dental implants.
-They are more likely to be covered by dental insurance.
-They don’t require any bone grafting or invasive surgery.
-They only require two visits to your dentist, so less time is needed.
Dental bridge cons:
-Surrounding teeth are more susceptible to caries.
-They can damage healthy teeth around the missing tooth.
-They have to be replaced every 7–10 years.
-They lose their natural-looking appearance as they age.
Dental implant pros:
-They can last for more than 10 years and up to 40 years.
-They don’t damage their surrounding natural teeth.
-They retain their natural-looking appearance longer than bridges.
-They are more comfortable for the patient in the long term.
Dental implant cons:
-They have a higher cost.
-They may lead to surgical complications.
-The process can take up to 6 months.
-They are less likely to be covered by dental insurance.
What Lasts Longer Bridge Or Implant?
Generally, an implant lasts longer than a bridge, as a bridge lasts for 7–10 years, while the implant can last for more than 30 years. Other factors, however, will determine whether or not the tooth replacement will last for a long time:
-The dentist’s skills: The dentist’s skills and knowledge are very important. If the dentist is well-trained and has done that procedure many times, the tooth replacement procedure will have a higher success rate.
-The patient’s cooperation: Following the dentist’s instructions is a game-changer; for example, following the implant, the dentist asks you not to continuously manipulate it with your tongue; otherwise, it may fail.
-The correct diagnosis before choosing: As with any medical condition, the key to a positive prognosis is correctly diagnosing the patient from the start and knowing exactly what type of tooth replacement is appropriate for them.
Can You Replace A Bridge With An Implant?
A dental bridge has many drawbacks, including bone resorption underneath and food accumulation around it. By the time it becomes loose and uncomfortable or unattractive, many patients realize that an implant is better for them and want to replace their bridge with an implant as a tooth replacement for their missing tooth. This is possible, but not as easy as you might imagine! What does that mean? As we mentioned earlier, an implant is a tooth-like screw that is placed inside the jaw to support the crown that will be placed on it later to function as a natural tooth. One of the most important factors in implant success is the amount of remaining bone in the jaw. The dentist asks the patient to do an X-ray called a CBCT to visualize the bone and know exactly the remaining bone density. If the dentist removes the bridge and finds that there’s bone resorption and not enough bone is present to support the implant, then the dentist schedules an appointment for bone grafting, which means taking some bone, either natural or artificial, and placing it in the jaw, then waiting for several months for bone formation. Finally, when bone formation is complete, the jaw is ready to have the implant placed.
How Can I Care For My Bridge Or Implant?
Taking care of your tooth replacement is an important factor in determining its life span; therefore, you should always keep a clean environment around it, brush your teeth and floss them on a regular basis, and maintain a healthy diet high in fiber and low in carbohydrates and sticky foods. Furthermore, don’t ever hesitate to ask your dentist about cleaning instructions, as they are the only one who can provide professional advice suitable for your case and oral health.