Thanks to modern dental technology, there are several options for people who are missing teeth and want to restore their smile. Dental bridges used to be the golden standard for replacing missing teeth, but a newer method has emerged in recent years. Dental implants are a permanent tooth-replacement option that, in many cases, is a better option than dental bridges.
Dr. Christopher Banks in Chevy Chase, MD is an experienced implant dentist who offers both dental implants and dental bridges, and can help you decide which option is best for your needs.
Practical Reasons for Both
A dental bridge is a tooth replacement option where a set of crowns — false teeth — is placed over the gap. The bridge needs to be anchored on to the existing teeth on either side, and the only way to attach them is to remove most of the enamel. This can be an option for patients whose neighboring teeth need large fillings or will need crowns or caps in the future, or if the jawbone structure is not supportive of a dental implant.
Dental implants, on the other hand, stand alone. The metal implant is surgically placed in the jawbone and a crown is attached to it to provide the appearance and functionality of the natural tooth. Implants can be cleaned and used just like normal teeth, whereas bridges require more maintenance and need to be replaced more often.
Your Oral Care Routine
Implants are easier to take care of because they are taken care of the same as your natural teeth. Regular brushing and flossing will keep implants and their surrounding tissues healthy. Dental bridges are cemented in the mouth and involve at least three crowns attached to each other, and the nature of this design makes it more difficult to clean. Flossing in particular requires that you floss underneath the false tooth to prevent gum disease.
Dental bridges are less durable than implants, as they need to be replaced around the 10-year mark. Since a portion of the natural teeth remains underneath the bridge, normal wear may lead to tooth decay as what remains is still susceptible to decay and gum disease.
Dental implants, however, can last a lifetime. The metal implant itself is made of titanium or zirconia and fuses with your jawbone. Since dental implants only affect the area of the missing tooth and not the surrounding teeth, those teeth are more likely to stay healthy. If an implant is properly cared for, the implant portion will last a lifetime, with only the false tooth needing replacement every 15-20 years due to normal wear and tear.
The cost of the dental bridge is less initially, but it will need to be replaced at some point in the future. Implants – from preparation to final placement – may seem more expensive, but can actually save you money over time. Fortunately, most dental insurance providers now pay for a portion of or all of the steps involved in the implant process. Implant treatment is also generally more flexible, allowing patients to budget the cost in increments. For example, a bone graft is sometimes needed to reinforce the jawbone to support an implant. This graft typically has to heal for several months before an implant can be done. This inadvertently allows the patient more time to save for the next phase of the process.
Dental Implants in Chevy Chase, MD
Both options are preferable to being afraid to smile because you’re self-conscious or having difficulty chewing. Although bridges are an older procedure, dental implants have become more commonplace over the years, and in most cases are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth due to their durability and ease of care.
If you are considering dental implants, finding a dentist who listens to your needs and who can recommend the appropriate treatment plan is essential. Dr. Banks will consult with you individually to determine the best choice for you. Schedule an appointment online today or call 202.769.0324 to start restoring your smile.