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 a titanium screw implanted into the jaw bone on which a porcelain tooth connects. A dental bridge involves crowning two teeth on either side of the missing tooth. They are joined together by a ‘pontic’ which fills in the missing space. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and it is essential 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. After tooth removal, the socket should 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 attaining the final result. Sometimes after tooth removal, we have to wait four months to place the implant. Then the implant can take an additional four months for it to integrate with the bone. However, there are situations where an implant placement implant can be the same day as the tooth extraction – 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 that does not involve any shaving of the adjacent teeth–this is one of the main advantages of an implant. A bridge, however, consists of preparing crowns on the adjacent teeth. In other words, significant shaving of the adjacent teeth takes place to make room for the bridge. Sometimes, adjusting 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 implant placement is generally more favorable– so these teeth are not touched. However, if the two adjacent teeth need dental crowns anyways or already have root canal treatment done, then the bridge option may be more attractive.
Surgery versus no surgery
Dental implant placement is a minor surgery, whereas the installation of a bridge is not. Some patients elect not to undergo a surgical procedure, or their medical history may contraindicate it. In these cases, the dental bridge can be 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. Many patients are pleasantly surprised about the ease of implant placement. However, sometimes there is not enough bone, and additional surgical procedures are needed. These include bone grafts like a sinus lift or ridge augmentation. In general, the more needed ancillary dental procedures to place an implant, the more patients that will want to explore other ways of filling in a missing tooth. Dr. Hawryluk will make a full diagnosis before starting any work and inform you if additional procedures could be needed.
In general, implants are more expensive than dental bridges primarily because materials and commercial lab fees 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 requires a floss threader to floss, and this is more time-consuming. If you compare the difference in oral home care time over several years, an implant takes substantially less time to maintain.
As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages of these two types of treatment. St. Lawrence Dentistry will make sure you are fully informed and help you select the best treatment option. If you would like to learn more about Dental Implants or Bridges and live in the Mississauga/Toronto area, please give us a call.