Dental Implants, Dentures or Bridges? Which is better for me?
Dental Implant: Dental implants are permanent fixtures of titanium posts anchored to the jawbone and topped with individual replacement teeth or a bridge that screws or cements into the posts.
Bridge: A bridge is a dental restoration that spans an area that has no teeth and is connected to natural teeth at each end. A typical bridge consists of a pontic (a filler tooth) that is attached to two surrounding abutments (crowns). Once complete, this bridge structure is bonded into the mouth.
Advantages of Dental Implants over Bridges
- It does not rely on other teeth for support, therefore not "damaging" pristine tooth structure. However, many bridges can now be placed with little or no change to the abutting teeth.
- It is a reversible procedure. If for whatever reason you decided that you don’t want the implant anymore and that you want a bridge instead, you can take the implant out and the bone will regenerate, whereas if you went with a bridge first and then an implant, the "prepped" teeth would still require crowns.
- Long-term viability is very good to excellent.
- Although the initial cost of a bridge is lower than that of an implant, bridges need to be replaced every seven to fifteen years, compared to dental implants which have a life span of up to 25 years.
Advantages of Bridges over Dental Implants
- Dental Implants can take a long time to place. It is a long process, when compared to a bridge, from start to completion. From extraction to healing to implant placement and bone grafting, it can be several months before you get a functional crown.
- Dental implants involve surgery.
- Cost – initially the cost of an implant will be higher than that of a fixed bridge.
Advantages of Dental Implants over Dentures
- Your mouth will be restored as closely as possible to its natural state
- Permanently fixed & won’t loosen
- Keep you looking younger by preventing shrinkage of jaw bone
- Deter further tooth loss
- No nightly care & adhesives
- Allow you to eat all foods
Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?
The ideal candidate for a dental implant is in good general and oral health. Adequate bone in your jaw is needed to support the implant. Some people who have lost bone in their jaw still can get implants, but first the bone must be rebuilt using special bone-grafting procedures. People who are currently wearing partial or full dentures can replace these with dental implants, or use implants to stabilize and secure the denture, making it much more comfortable. People who are not good candidates for dental implants include:
- Young patient whose jawbones have not fully developed
- Pregnant women
- Heavy smokers – smoking impedes healing in the mouth and can reduce the likelihood that implants will be successful. However, this doesn’t eliminate the possibility of getting dental implants.
- People with existing medical conditions. If you can have routine dental treatment, you can generally have an implant placed. While precautions are advisable for certain conditions, patients with such chronic diseases as high blood pressure and diabetes are usually successful candidates for dental implant treatment.
- Patients who take certain medications such as steroids or drugs that suppress the immune system
- People who severely grind or clench their teeth – these habits can place too much pressure on the implants and increase the risk of failure.