Whether you lost a tooth playing hockey or from decay, the reasons for missing teeth are endless, but it’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. At Carolina Oaks Dental Care of Greenville, we are a solutions-based, non-judgmental dental practice where our top priority is helping you to get a healthy, radiant smile.
When it comes to teeth replacement options, it’s no surprise that each patient is different. However, two of the most popular procedures are dental bridges and dental implants.
In this blog, we will compare dental bridge vs. implant in depth to empower you to understand your options more clearly.
What is a Dental Implant?
For many years, patients who had lost teeth had to choose between getting a fixed bridge or using removable dentures. Luckily, science has advanced considerably, and dental implants are a safe, aesthetically pleasing option for replacing a missing tooth or even multiple teeth.
Why do missing teeth need to be replaced? Well, not only does the issue make you feel self-conscious, it can also be detrimental to your health. Missing teeth adversely affect chewing patterns, cause bone loss, and can contribute to further tooth loss.
The term implant can seem rather broad, so let’s break down what exactly a dental implant is. Essentially, a dental implant is a small titanium screw. The implant replaces the tooth’s roots and provides a stable foundation for a new tooth.
The Dental Implant Procedure
The dental implant is surgically inserted into the lower or upper jaw, which allows the replacement teeth to fit securely into the gums and imitate the appearance and feel of natural teeth. Though the term surgically inserted can seem intimidating, the procedure itself is quite seamless and is done in office.
While many patients do opt for some form of sedation, we can place a dental implant with just local anesthetic. Once in place, the implant is allowed to heal for several months. During this time, the screw fuses with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration.
After the healing period, your Greenville cosmetic dentist will design a custom dental crown. The crown will be attached to the dental implant. If you need to replace multiple teeth, we can place individual dental implants for each missing tooth or only place a few implants to support a dental bridge or fixed denture.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is sometimes referred to as a fixed bridge since it’s bonded in place and long-lasting. A bridge consists of two dental crowns with a natural-looking false tooth in the middle, called a pontic.
The teeth on either side of the gap are fitted with the dental crowns. These are known as the abutment teeth. The pontic then sits in the middle, filling in the space left by the tooth that was lost. So, a dental bridge literally bridges the gap.
If you have more than one missing tooth, we can create a bridge with additional crowns and, if needed, abutment teeth.
The Dental Bridge Procedure
Your Greenville, SC dentist will take impressions to design a custom bridge that looks and feels natural. They’ll numb the area and shape the abutment teeth to fit under the crowns. While you wait for the lab to create your permanent bridge, we can place temporary crowns.
When your bridge is ready, you’ll come back to the office. The dentist will gently remove your temporary crowns and place the bridge. They’ll check the fit and aesthetics before bonding it in place.
Dental Implant or Bridge?
When comparing a dental bridge vs. implant, both options will:
- Improve the appearance of your smile
- Help you chew and speak properly
- Boost your confidence
- Maintain the shape of your face
- Prevent remaining teeth from shifting to preserve your bite
- Be more comfortable than removable dentures, which can slip and slide and/or cause irritation
The main benefits of dental bridges over implants are:
- The cost of a dental bridge is typically less than the cost of dental implants in SC or most areas of the country.
- Dental bridges don’t usually require bone grafting prior to placement, while dental implants do need enough bone to support them. Bone grafting may or may not be necessary before getting a dental implant depending on your case.
- The dental implant process is longer than that of a dental bridge. You’ll wait several months for your implant to fuse with your bone before getting your permanent replacement tooth.
The benefits of a dental implant vs. a bridge include:
- Dental implants can be a permanent solution, while dental bridges could need to be replaced at some point.
- Because the dental implant fuses with the jawbone, it’s more stable and feels the most natural.
- Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that preserves your jawbone after tooth loss. Even with a dental bridge, you’ll experience some bone loss where the tooth is missing.
- In cases of multiple missing teeth, or if you’re missing all of your teeth, dental implants are the best way to avoid facial collapse, which is when the face begins to sink in due to bone loss.
- Dental implants are cared for just like your natural teeth. They don’t require any extra effort or special tools like floss threaders, while a dental bridge does.
Book a Visit With an Experienced Dentist in Greenville, SC
If you’re ready to replace missing teeth, schedule a visit at Carolina Oaks Dental Care of Greenville. Dr. Molly Netzler or Dr. Tait Carpenter will assess your oral health and needs and help you decide on the ideal treatment for your case and lifestyle. Our practice offers a host of cosmetic and restorative procedures including dental crowns and bridges, dentures and dental implants in South Carolina.