If you're thinking about getting a bridge to replace a missing tooth, you may want to talk to your dentist about an implant first. A bridge is one way to replace a lost tooth, but now implants offer an alternative. Here's how a bridge and implant compare and why an implant might be a better choice for you.
An Implant Doesn't Affect Nearby Healthy Teeth
A downside to getting a bridge is the dentist has to work on the teeth on each side of the missing tooth. Even if the teeth are healthy, the enamel has to be shaved down so crowns can be put on the teeth. These crowns are fused to the crown in the middle that replaces the lost tooth.
If you have cavities in the nearby teeth and they need crowns anyway, it's not an issue, but if the teeth are healthy, you may prefer an option that doesn't involve covering the healthy teeth with crowns. A dental implant does this since it's not necessary to bother the nearby teeth at all.
However, it's also important to understand what happens if the nearby teeth aren't healthy. If you have three teeth in a row that need to be pulled, the dentist might recommend an implant-supported bridge. What this means is three teeth are removed and the teeth on the ends are replaced with implants while the middle tooth is a crown only.
Implants Have Advantages Over Bridges
An implant consists of an artificial root and an artificial tooth. A traditional bridge only has an artificial tooth. An artificial root stimulates your bone so bone loss is prevented. You could potentially lose bone when you just cover the gap with a crown.
Plus, an implant is more like a natural tooth in the way it looks and performs. Since it doesn't involve nearby teeth, those teeth won't be harmed by having a bridge attached to them.
Both Visits Require Multiple Dental Visits
It may be quicker to get a crown than a dental implant, but both require multiple dental visits. That's because the dentist has to make an impression of your teeth on one visit and send the impressions to the lab for the artificial tooth to be made. The bridge or implant crown is then put on during a follow-up visit.
A dental implant is an excellent choice for a single missing tooth replacement, but you'll need an evaluation from your dentist to make sure you are a good match for the dental procedure and to explore other options too. If you happen to need a bone graft before you can get an implant, that adds to the cost of getting an implant and increases the length of time to complete the process.
Reach out to a local dentist to learn more about dental implants.