Losing a baby tooth as a kid might mean a visit from the tooth fairy, but losing a tooth as an adult isn’t nearly as fun. A missing tooth can affect the way you eat, speak, the appearance of your smile, and your self-confidence. Luckily, dental implants and bridges make it possible to replace missing teeth and restore your smile. But which of these restorative dental procedures is right for you?
If you’re weighing the pros and cons of a dental bridge vs. an implant, read on to learn how they’re different and the benefits of each.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a false tooth suspended between your healthy teeth on either side of the space left behind by a missing tooth. Bridges are made of porcelain and are designed to match the color of your surrounding teeth.
Traditionally, dentists secure the bridges onto the teeth by cementing a cap, or crown, to the adjacent teeth. This may require your dentist to shave down a portion of the surrounding teeth to ensure a comfortable fit.
In addition to the traditional bridge, there are two other types of dental bridges a dentist can use to replace a missing tooth:
- Maryland Bridge: If a tooth is missing from a part of your mouth that doesn’t often encounter much force, your dentist may decide to use a winged or Maryland bridge. These dental bridges are embedded into the teeth on either side of the gap instead of covering them like a crown.
- Cantilever Bridge: In cases where you may not have teeth on both sides of the gap, you may require a cantilever bridge. This type of bridge only attaches to one tooth next to the opening. The structure of the bridge then suspends over the gap where your missing tooth used to be.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges are a very cost-effective form of tooth restoration and one of the fastest ways to replace a lost tooth. At Muscaro & Martini Dentistry, we can create dental bridges for patients in as little as one visit using CEREC technology.
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a single, false tooth attached to your jaw by a metal post, often made out of titanium.
During the procedure, the dentist will insert a metal post that secures the implant into your jaw. While it heals, the bone around that area will grow and surround the post. The healing process can take anywhere from four to six months.
Once the procedure site heals, your dentist will screw on the artificial tooth and seal it into place.
While they take longer than dental bridges, implants are more durable and designed to last a lifetime. They also look very natural, which is something to consider if your missing tooth was in a very prominent location.
Benefits of a Dental Implant
In addition to looking and feeling more like natural teeth, implants can significantly contribute to your jaw health as you age and prevent your jawbone from deteriorating.
When you lose teeth as an adult, your jawbone will naturally begin to shrink and alter your smile and face shape. By getting a tooth implant, the post inserted in your jaw will help to stimulate bone growth, maintaining your jaw’s shape.
What Are the Main Differences Between a Dental Bridge vs. an Implant?
Understanding how dental bridges are different from implants can help you make the best choice for your smile. Here are the main differences you’ll want to consider.
While implants may be more durable than bridges, they will also take longer to install.
The process of installing an implant often involves some level of oral surgery. It can take weeks or months for the area to recover depending on the patient.
A dental bridge, on the other hand, can be completed and installed in just a single day.
Since bridges are less invasive, they are more affordable than dental implants.
If you have several teeth missing and having them all replaced with implants is too expensive, your dentist may recommend a mixed approach that combines both an implant and a bridge.
The location of a missing tooth is also important to consider. Implants look more natural than bridges, and most people can’t tell the difference between an implant and a natural tooth.
While dental bridge technology has come a long way, if you need to replace a tooth in a conspicuous location, such as one of your front teeth, you may decide that you want to go with an implant to maintain your smile’s natural appearance.
Are Bridges and Implants Covered by Insurance?
While the procedures are often necessary, insurance providers tend to view dental restorations as high-end treatments. Due to the extra costs associated with dental implants, some insurance providers may offer additional coverage for more affordable procedures like a bridge.
It is important to remember that every insurance company has guidelines for what level of coverage they provide. If you are unsure what your plan covers, you may want to call your insurance provider to double-check.
This information can also help you and your dentist work out a treatment plan that works within your budget.
How to Know Which Option Is the Best for You
If you have missing teeth you need to replace, you will likely need either a dental implant or bridge. There are several factors to consider when deciding what will work the best for you, such as:
- The number of teeth missing
- The location
- The cost
- The timeframe in which you need it completed
By visiting a dental professional, you can get an in-depth evaluation to determine what specific factors affect you the most.
In some cases, both solutions are advisable. If you have lost several teeth in a row, bridges may be a very affordable solution. However, if you no longer have a stable tooth to attach the bridge to, your dentist may also recommend installing implants. This way, the bridge can connect to the sturdy implants, so you won’t need to worry about it becoming detached.
Schedule an Appointment Today
Restoring a missing tooth isn’t just a matter of improving your smile’s appearance—it’s also necessary to maintain your oral health.
Schedule an appointment with Muscaro and Martini Cosmetic Dentistry in South Tampa, Florida, to meet with our dental restoration experts and take the first step to achieving your best smile!