Bridge or Implant?
The best solution for your dental health
A bridge is a fixed dental prosthesis used to close the gaps caused by a missing tooth or teeth. A bridge is generally attached to healthy adjacent teeth, which need to be filed down in preparation for the procedure. Dental implants (or simply: implants) are basically artificial tooth roots. They allow various different types of dental prostheses to be fitted straight into the jaw bone: for example artificial dental crowns, but also partial dentures or dental bridges.
To help you with your personal decision between a “bridge or implant?” the smilin’’ dental practice offers an informative summary of the different options below.
Dental prostheses are a must
Leaving a dental gap untreated after the removal of a tooth is not a good idea. A precision-fitted tooth replacement is invariably the preferable way to go – whether you opt for a dental bridge or for any other solution. The reasons are manifold:
- A dental prosthesis will support the adjacent teeth and prevent them from shifting towards the gap.
- A dental prosthesis will also provide pressure stimulus for the tooth’s counterpart in the opposite arch. This prevents what is known as extrusion, i.e. the gradual hypereruption of the opposite tooth from the socket.
- A dental prosthesis restores the aesthetics of an untreated and unattractive gap in your teeth.
When deciding which type of dental restoration is best suited, there are various options available. This decision will depend on aesthetic considerations, effects on your dental health, and longevity of the prosthetic solution selected.
A bridge can be inserted to cover gaps left by one or more teeth. Bridges generally ensure attractive aesthetic results. This is in particular the case if the bridge is made from ceramic materials. They can be perfectly matched to your natural teeth.
However, dental bridges do have a down side: For want of other means of attachment, the bridge needs to be attached to the teeth surrounding the empty space. To do so, the adjoining teeth, which serve as anchors (abutments), need to be reduced in size. This means that healthy natural tooth material has to be sacrificed:
- To close larger gaps, a larger proportion of tooth material will need to be removed from the teeth on either side.
- The fixings can then be positioned on the remaining pegs and permanently cemented.
- This makes the dental construction more stable.
Attaching a dental bridge to the adjoining teeth is not the only option, however. An especially effective way to fit a bridge is the placement of a dental implant. This is an artificial tooth root that is firmly bonded to the jaw bone.
The issue “bridge or implant?” therefore does not mean that there is only either the one option or the other – you can also combine the two. Implant-supported bridges offer the advantage that the surrounding teeth do not need to be recontoured.
Instead of attaching a bridge to the implant, however, it is also possible to fix artificial tooth crowns. This procedure is somewhat more complex, but generally preferable from an aesthetic point of view.
Long-term dental health: Bridge or Implant?
Grinding down adjacent teeth, as is common practice when fitting a dental bridge, can in the long run have an adverse impact on your health. The abutments are weakened by the grinding process. As a result, they are more susceptible to dental diseases. When a dental implant is fitted, this does not require down-sizing of healthy teeth.
Another factor increases the strain on the abutments: Because of the bridge construction, they have to accommodate a higher chewing pressure. This may further reduce the lifespan of the abutments.
Compared to implant-supported solutions, dental bridges have another disadvantage. The dental bridge only fills the gap in the upper, visible area, while it does not replace the root of the missing tooth. The permanent absence of the root, however, gradually causes the bone to erode away. By contrast, an implant is anchored in the jawbone itself, replacing the natural root of the tooth. This helps preserve the jaw bone in the long run.
Implant-supported dental restoration
With a dental implant, all types of dental replacement can be bonded to the jawbone securely and permanently without compromising the adjoining teeth.
An implant can be used to replace missing teeth, for example with the following procedure: A dental implant is positioned in the area of the gap, which after a period of time will fuse to the jawbone. An artificial tooth crown is then screwed onto the implant. This way, the dental prosthesis is permanently bonded to the living bone.
A dental bridge, too, can be attached with the aid of dental implants – as can a partial denture. Your dentist will explain which solution is the best option for you after a thorough examination.
When deciding between a bridge and an implant there is one aspect that needs to be remembered: It will generally take several months for a dental implant to be fully fused with the bone. In the meantime, the gap has to be closed with a temporary dental prosthesis. Fitting a non-implant-supported bridge is a quicker solution.
Benefits of implants
- Implants provide an extremely firm anchor for dental prostheses
- They allow for excellent aesthetic results
- They help preserve the supporting bone in the long run
- They can help prevent bone resorption and periodontitis (gum disease)
- Implants will last a long time
We will be happy to advise you
The decision whether to go for a “bridge or implant” can ultimately only be made after ascertaining your individual dental status. The experienced dentists at the smilin’’ dental practice in Rheinfelden near Weil am Rhein and Basel will be happy to examine and advise you. To make an appointment, please contact us by phone or by e-mail.