You’ve lost a tooth, or several in a row, and you’re wondering what your next steps are regarding replacement. We can assure you that millions of others face this same decision each year in the United States. In fact, 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and 40 million don’t have any natural teeth left. And these numbers are growing thanks to an aging population.
Numbers aside, you want to know what tooth replacement option is best for you. While that’s a decision that only you can make, Dr. Leila Shahbazi and our team here at Pure Smiles can provide you with some factors to plug into your equation.
To that end, we look at two of the top replacement options we offer as part of our general dentistry services — dental implants and dental bridges — and how they compare in key areas.
When you lose a tooth, you want your replacement to perform as well as your old tooth in terms of stability so that you can chew and talk easily. Both implants and bridges check this box.
With a dental bridge, we secure the artificial teeth, or pontics, to abutment teeth on either side, creating a bridge (we can also attach to one abutment if it’s an end tooth). We cap the abutment teeth with crowns to ensure stability and, once your dental bridge is in place, it stays put.
With a dental implant, the stability is even better since we anchor a metal post into your jaw that acts like a root. Once bone grows around the post and fuses it into place, we attach a crown to the implant, and you have a stable, functioning tooth.
When you lose a tooth, one area of concern is consequent bone loss in your jaw. Within 12 months after a tooth comes out, you can lose up to 50% of the bone in the area.
The reason for this is that there are no longer roots inside your jaw that signal that the area is active. This signaling is important because your body continues to rebuild bone to secure the roots (and tooth).
With a dental implant, we replace your roots with a metal post, which tricks your body into thinking there are roots there. As a result, your body remodels bone in that area.
Conversely, as the name implies, a dental bridge spans the gap from above but doesn’t mimic roots below, so you can lose bone in your jaw. This bone loss can progress and threaten neighboring teeth.
If you’ve already incurred bone loss in your jaw, you might need a bone graft to support an implant. If you’d prefer to keep things simple, a dental bridge might be an easier, and less time-consuming, choice.
If you’re looking for the most economical option, a dental bridge is your better choice. Dental implants are more expensive, and these expenses can add up if you’re placing more than one tooth. That said, when our clients are missing several teeth in a row, many opt for dental implants on either side of the gap and a bridge in between.
Another point to consider is that once we place an implant, it's there for good. Dental bridges, on the other hand, often require replacement every 10 years or so.
When it comes to your all-important smile, both dental bridges and dental implants rise to the challenge.
If you have more questions about choosing between a dental bridge or a dental implant, we're here to help. Simply contact our office in Scottsdale, Arizona, to make an appointment.