One of the most common questions our patients enquire about concerns the option of choosing between a dental implant and a dental bridge. Which option provides the best long term result and the most appealing solution for the patient, particularly when the missing tooth is in the visible portion of the mouth?
The dental bridge
A dental bridge, as the name would suggest, bridges the gap that has been created by the loss of a tooth (or on occasion more than one tooth). A false tooth will take the place of the original tooth, while the existing teeth either side of it will have crowns fitted. The crowns and the false tooth are all created as a single piece to be fitted into the mouth.
The dental implant
There are three portions to a single dental implant. The first is the implant itself, which is made from titanium. This is inserted into the jawbone and is required to fuse with it over time before the remainder of the procedure can occur. Next, the abutment is fitted onto the previously positioned implant. Finally a crown – essentially a false tooth – is fitted onto the abutment to complete the procedure.
Differences between a dental bridge and a dental implant
The chief difference concerns the amount of work that is to be completed. A dental implant requires more time than a dental bridge, which means the end result will take longer to complete. This is due to the requirement for the implant to properly fuse with the underlying jaw bone before the next stage of the treatment can commence. Some patients may also require a bone graft initially, in order for their jaw bone to be strong enough to accommodate the titanium implant successfully.
While this sounds complex, a dental bridge also requires that some work is undertaken concerning the teeth on either side of the gap which is to be filled. If the teeth that exist on either side are healthy and would not normally require crowns at any stage in the near future, the patient may not want these teeth to be treated in any way. In general the dental bridge requires less time to create and fit than the average dental implant.
Which procedure do we recommend?
We have a high degree of experience in implant placement, with an exceptionally high success rate to accompany it. Therefore we would recommend the dental implant for those patients who want to achieve the best possible visual appearance and who would like a long lasting solution to a missing tooth.
While both the dental bridge and the dental implant can result in an attractive appearance when the treatments are completed, implants have a tendency to last longer without causing any issues to the patient. They also do not require any treatment to take place on the neighbouring teeth.
In the case of a dental bridge, a patient may have more than one bridge if they are missing several teeth, whether they are missing in the visible or the molar portion of the mouth. In the case of dental implants, the patient may require more than one depending on how many teeth are missing.
Providing the patient is in good health and has good dental health with no underlying issues, we would generally recommend a dental implant as the best solution in this situation.