According to the CDC, 7 percent of people in the U.S. have lost at least one permanent tooth as a result of decay by the time they turn 17. American adults age 20–64 have an average of 25 remaining teeth. 3.75% of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have no remaining teeth. By the time you reach 50, you may lose, on average, 12 teeth.
If you suffer from any kind of tooth loss, you can go for two options: dental implants or bridges. Like all dental procedures, they both have their pros and cons. There are many factors to consider when deciding on a tooth replacement procedure. Here’s what you need to know before you choose which option is best for you.
How Implants and Bridges Work
Dental implants involve placing a titanium screw in your jaw bone. This acts as a root, and false teeth are then placed on it. An implant doesn’t affect the teeth adjacent to it. With a dental bridge though, the teeth adjacent to the missing one are reduced by removing their enamel. This is done so that these teeth can then support the crowns which will hold the artificial tooth placed in between them.
For a bridge, you need healthy surrounding teeth. With an implant though, you don’t need the adjacent teeth to be healthy. In fact, adjacent teeth aren’t necessary- you can get implants for multiple missing teeth in a row.
Time and Cost
Implants require dental surgery. The procedure involves multiple steps and is time-consuming. It takes at least a few months to place implants, and the procedure can also take over a year depending on the individual.
For a dental bridge, you only need to visit your dentist 2 to 3 times. The cost is also much lower.
When You Can Get Implants and Bridges
Implants need to be placed soon after an extraction. This is because your gums and jawbone start to recede once a tooth is gone. If they have receded, you might need other procedures such as bone grafting before you can get an implant. It’s not always possible to get an implant if it’s been years since you lost a tooth.
A dental bridge doesn’t need to be placed in the jawbone or gums, so you can undergo this procedure even if you lost a tooth long ago. All you need is healthy adjacent teeth and you’re good to go.
Durability and Long-Term Health
While dental implants take a lot longer to be placed, they also last much longer. Dental bridges and crowns need changing after about 10 years, but implants can last a lifetime.
Implants are better for your long-term oral health, because they don’t require other teeth to be reduced. They also promote your natural bone and gum growth. Your jawbone heals and grows naturally around the titanium.
Bridges are not as good for long-term health, because they affect adjacent teeth. They can be useful though, if several teeth need fillings or might need crowns later.
It’s important to have a discussion with your dentist about which treatment is best-suited for your needs. Whether you choose implants or bridges, now is the time to restore your confident smile! Visit the best dentists in Bethesda for unique family dentistry solutions!