Bridgework is a common way to deal with missing teeth. However:
- Bridges typically last only 7–10 years, meaning ongoing replacement is necessary over a lifetime.
- Bridges do not support adjacent teeth. These teeth will often experience faster wear and decay and may need to be extracted.
- Dental implants provide a realistic-looking, functional replacement for missing teeth and can last a lifetime.
- Dental implants are only slightly more expensive than bridges initially and cost less in the long run!
As children, we impatiently wait to lose our teeth. As an adult, tooth loss is a distinctly less joyful experience; we cannot depend on the tooth fairy to bring cash, and we certainly can’t expect a new tooth to miraculously appear.
Perhaps you have lost a tooth recently due to an accident, periodontal disease, failed root canal, cracked root, or a tooth with deep decay that renders it untreatable. Maybe you’ve been dealing with a gap in your smile since you ran into that car with your bicycle as a teenager. Perhaps you’ve even considered a bridge to replace the missing tooth but never got around to it. After all, it’s just a gap that maybe no one sees. Why bother fixing it?
Your teeth work together to help you chew, speak, and smile. When you’re missing one or more teeth, it’s not as easy to do these things. In fact, if you lose a tooth and don’t replace it, you are much more likely to lose one of the adjacent teeth than if you do replace it! Your teeth support each other, so losing one tooth and not replacing it can start a domino effect of tooth loss in your mouth.
As well as improving your appearance, replacing one or two missing teeth could substantially improve your overall oral health. Just one missing tooth can lead to:
- A slow drift of the remaining teeth leads to misalignment and increased gaps between the remaining teeth
- An improper bite leads to problems with jaw alignment and difficulty chewing
- Additional bone and tissue loss at the site of the missing tooth and the surrounding area
- Increased chance of infection of the gums or jawbone, especially if the tooth has been broken and not entirely removed
- Embarrassing speech impediments as teeth used by the tongue to clearly form words go missing
- Additional loss of teeth—usually those directly next to the missing teeth
- Self-consciousness and the desire to cover your mouth or avoid smiling to hide your misaligned and unsightly teeth— – and even missed opportunities due to your appearance. It may be wrong, but it is a fact that most people are judged by others in part according to appearance, and missing teeth can affect how others perceive you, resulting in damaging social or business interactions.
Dental Implants Have Multiple Advantages Over a Bridge
In the past, a single missing tooth was traditionally replaced with a bridge. In some cases, a fixed bridge would be glued to the adjacent teeth; in others, a removable bridge would be created that could be removed for cleaning. Unfortunately, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth are often harmed by bridge placement.
In most cases, the remaining healthy teeth must be cut/trimmed down or otherwise altered in order to accommodate the bridge and must withstand the extra strain put on them by the clasps that are attached to them. These otherwise healthy teeth often end up needing root canal treatment due to the trauma of being ground down and the rocking they experience as they absorb the pressure and grinding that the missing tooth was responsible for handling.
These teeth often experience additional decay and eventually need replacement in turn. Many patients with a fixed bridge to replace one tooth eventually need a fixed bridge to replace three as the teeth supporting the original bridge decay. The cycle can go on over and over again. If a person is susceptible to decay, it is reasonable to assume and is expected that the replacement will get decay if it is susceptible to decay. That is why bridges supported by natural teeth have a limited life. They usually get decay and have to be redone.
In contrast, dental implants represent a sophisticated and low-impact technique for replacing missing teeth. In the case of a single missing tooth (or even multiple teeth), the implant can be inserted with no adverse effect to surrounding teeth. Once completed, the implant looks and feels like your natural tooth. You care for the implant in the same way you care for your regular teeth—with no adjustments, removal, or special cleaning solutions needed.
As an added bonus, implants often last a lifetime, while a typical bridge can only be expected to last 7–10 years. Even when more than one tooth is missing, dental implants are a safe and superior alternative to dental bridges.
How much do implants cost?
Dental implants are initially about 10–20 percent more expensive than bridges. When you consider that a bridge will normally have to be replaced at least once a decade, however, that cost difference is quickly diminished. Health insurance plans vary widely, but most will cover at least a portion of the cost of dental implants. Dr. Scharf will work with you to secure maximum benefits from your insurance company. We also offer interest-free financing and long-term payment plans. Many people are surprised to learn that they can have dental implants for a monthly payment less than what they spend each month on cable television and their cell phone bill! Contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation today!