If you’re one of the 178 million Americans missing at least one tooth, replacement is essential. Replacing a missing tooth protects the alignment of your other teeth, helps maintain the shape of your face, and prevents difficulties with eating or speaking.
Your options to replace a missing tooth usually are an implant or a bridge. Both solutions have advantages and disadvantages, so the final choice comes down to what your dentist recommends and what you’re comfortable with.
Here are a few facts to consider, courtesy of Dr. Brian LaBombard and the team at Airport Dental Care in Austin, Texas.
What’s an implant?
An implant is a tooth replacement with three parts: a titanium implant surgically implanted into your jawbone that serves as the root of the missing tooth; an abutment that goes on top of the titanium post; and a crown that attaches to the abutment and serves as the artificial tooth.
Implants mimic your natural teeth in look, feel, and function, so no one knows you have one.
What’s a bridge?
A dental bridge fills in the gap of one or more missing teeth by putting crowns on the teeth adjacent to the tooth gap with an artificial tooth in the middle cemented into place. There are several types of dental bridges to fit your individual situation.
Factors to consider
Whether you need an implant or a bridge depends on several factors:
Number of missing teeth
If you’re missing a single tooth, an implant is probably your best option. Each implant works for a single tooth, so multiple teeth would mean multiple implants, increasing the cost and complexity of the procedure. Dental bridges work well when you’re missing multiple teeth.
Dental implants last longer than bridges (the implant fuses with your jawbone) and are resistant to decay. If you maintain good oral hygiene, they can last a lifetime. Bridges last about 10 years. If any part is damaged or wears out, the bridge must be replaced.
An implant has a higher initial cost but may save you money in the long run if you take care of it. Bridges cost less but may need replacing more often, which increases the overall cost.
Getting a dental implant takes months — once installed, the titanium implant must fuse with the jawbone before the abutment and crown are added. This process can take up to six months. A bridge, on the other hand, can be completed in two office visits over a couple of weeks.
If you need help determining which dental solution is right for you, the team at Airport Dental Care is ready and willing to help. Call the office at 512-668-9907 or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment.