St. Lawrence Dentistry makes every effort to save compromised teeth. However, sometimes it is necessary to remove a tooth and replace it with a dental prosthetic. Two main ways of replacing a missing tooth are a dental implant or a fixed bridge. A dental implant is basically a titanium screw implanted into the jaw bone on which a porcelain tooth is connected. A dental bridge is where two teeth are crowned on either side of the missing tooth and they are joined together by a ‘pontic’ which fills in the missing space. Both have advantages and disadvantages and it is important to make an informed decision about which one best suits your situation.
A bridge is typically a much faster treatment to perform than the implant restoration process. When doing a bridge, after a tooth is removed the area should be left to heal for about 2-3 weeks until the jaw and gums have finished their post extraction remodeling. Then the dental bridge preparation can begin and typically two weeks later the bridge will be ready to insert. Implant treatment on the other hand can take many months until the final result is attained. Sometimes we have to wait four months after a tooth is removed to place the implant. Then the implant can take 4 more months for it to integrate until a porcelain tooth can be placed on top of it. However, there are situations where an implant can be placed the same day a tooth is extracted. This is called ‘immediate implant placement’ and Dr. Hawryluk can assess whether you are a candidate for this technique.
Involvement of adjacent teeth
An implant is a standalone structure which does not involve any shaving of the adjacent teeth. This is one of the main advantages of an implant. A bridge however, involves preparing crowns on the adjacent teeth. In other words, the teeth have to be shaved significantly down to make room for the bridge. Sometimes the act of preparing the teeth down can irritate the tooth nerve which can prompt the need for root canal treatment. This unplanned but potential further treatment is a drawback of dental bridge treatment. If two teeth on either side of a bridge are in pristine shape then implants implant placement is generally more favorable so these teeth are not touched. However, if the two adjacent teeth are in need of dental crowns anyways and/or already have root canal treatment done to them in the past then the bridge option may be more attractive.
Surgery versus no surgery
Dental implant placement is a minor surgery whereas placement of a bridge is not. Some patients chose not to undergo a surgical procedure and/or their medical history may contraindicate placement. In these cases the dental bridge can be looked at as the best option. If there is enough bone to place an implant then the minor surgery is well within the comfort zone of most patients. Actually many patient s are pleasantly surprised about the ease of implant placement. However, sometimes there is not enough bone and additional surgical procedures may be needed. These include bone grafts like a ‘sinus lift’ or ‘ridge augmentation’. The more additional procedures are needed to place the implant, the more patients in general want to explore other ways of filling in a missing tooth. Dr. Hawryluk will make a full diagnosis before any work is started any inform you if any of these additional procedures could be needed.
In general implants are more expensive then dental bridges. This is because the cost of the implant from the implant manufacturer can be substantial and dental lab charges are higher. Many patients have partial insurance coverage for dental bridges but do not for implants. Before undertaking any treatment St. Lawrence Dentistry will give you an accurate cost comparison between these options and also factor in your specific insurance coverage.
An implant is a standalone dental prosthetic and you can floss it just like any other tooth. A fixed bridge is requires a floss threader to floss and this is slightly more time consuming. However, when you add up the homecare time in terms of hours per decade, implants can be less time consuming to maintain during your at home oral care routine in the long run.
As you can see there are advantages and disadvantages between these two types of treatment. St. Lawrence Dentistry will make sure you are fully informed of your specific situation and help you select the best treatment option for you. If you would like to learn more about Dental Implants or Bridges and live in the Mississauga/Toronto area please give us a call.