Call Us:
(708) 754-8090

Dental bridge graphic

If you are missing one or more teeth, you may have considered tooth replacement to restore your smile and renew your confidence. Bridges and dental implants are common restorations for replacing damaged or missing teeth. However, each restoration offers different benefits and drawbacks, which are essential to consider when deciding on a tooth replacement option for your unique smile.

Learn about each type of tooth replacement option and consider your current dental health to make an informed decision.

Dental Bridge

Bridges are used to fill in a gap left behind when teeth are removed. Bridges typically consist of one or more dental crowns affixed to abutment teeth and a false tooth (called a pontic) that fits inside the missing tooth socket. There are three types of bridges used for dental repair.

1. Cantilever bridge

Cantilever bridges are used when there are no healthy teeth on one side of the missing tooth or if the tooth cannot be prepared for a crown due to aesthetic reasons or because it already has too many previous restorations. The bridge is held in place using a single crown on one side of the pontic.

2. Maryland bonded bridge

If the other teeth around the damaged tooth are healthy, a Maryland bonded bridge may be used. A bonded bridge uses tabs located on either side of the pontic that are cemented directly onto the surface of the adjacent teeth.

The downside to this option is that the dental cement used to hold this bridge in place can weaken over time and will have to be replaced.

3. Fixed bridge

Fixed bridges are the most common type of dental bridge. The artificial teeth are held in place by placing a crown on healthy teeth on either side of the bridge.

Fixed bridges are sturdy options that allow for more natural function when chewing, eating, and speaking. This type of bridge cannot be removed by anyone other than a dentist.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are replacement teeth that attach to a metal screw inserted into the jawbone. Implants are sturdy and a permanent solution for missing teeth.

Implants are placed in the jawbone surgically by drilling a small hole in the bone. The bone tissue fuses around the implant post, stabilizing the implant and allowing the dentist to attach an abutment and a restoration.

Implants are only possible when the jawbone and gums are healthy. If you have active gum disease, you may need periodontal therapy, including scaling and root planing or gum flap surgery to eliminate any signs of infection or inflammation. If you have insufficient jawbone density, your doctor may prescribe a bone graft to build up the jawbone tissue enough to support the implant.

Once the surgery is complete, dental implants can last a lifetime; only the artificial tooth needs to be replaced every 15 to 20 years.

Unlike a dental bridge, dental implants don’t require special cleaning tools. You simply brush and floss them just like your natural teeth. Although they can’t decay, they still need to be professionally cleaned by your hygienist twice a year to keep the surrounding gum tissue healthy and prevent discoloration. Restorations cannot be brightened with teeth whitening products.

What Option is the Best Choice?

The right choice for your smile depends on your oral health. Your dentist will perform an initial examination, including X-rays and digital scans, to determine which treatment you need to restore your smile.

Dental implants are an ideal long-term solution, require less maintenance than bridges, and allow you to eat, bite, and speak normally. While they have a higher upfront cost, they are more cost-effective over the long-term because they need fewer repairs and replacements.

Bridges are less expensive initially. However, because they don’t stabilize the jawbone underneath, you may experience bone resorption, which can cause your teeth to become misaligned. This can also affect your facial structure because you lose volume, giving you an aged appearance.

Bridges must also be replaced every 5 to 7 years to prevent slipping.

Get Tooth Replacements at Steger Smiles

At Steger Smiles, we know how challenging it can be to make the right decision for your oral health. If you are considering tooth replacements, contact our office at (708) 754-8090 for a consultation so we can discuss your missing teeth replacement options and restore your smile and confidence.

Be proud of your smile.