Replacing a missing tooth offers a number of benefits. A full set of teeth makes biting, chewing and speaking easier. Replacing a missing tooth also prevents the surrounding teeth from shifting to fill the space and minimizes the risk of dental decay, infections and other issues. Finally, the self-confidence that a full and complete smile provides is undeniable.
If you are missing a single tooth or several teeth, you have options, including dental implants and bridges. Here, holistic dentist Dr. Raymond G. Hatland discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each.
A dental implant consists of three parts: an artificial tooth root (typically made from titanium), a prosthetic dental crown and an abutment piece that connects the two. The dental implant placement process involves several steps. In the first step, the artificial tooth root is surgically inserted into the jaw. A temporary protective cover or dental restoration may be placed on top to protect the post and jaw as it heals. The implant and jawbone will then fuse together. This process, called osseointegration, takes several months to complete and is critical to creating a strong and stable foundation for the replacement tooth or teeth. Once the jawbone is fully healed, the permanent dental restoration, usually a crown, is secured into place. Dental implants can be used to replace one tooth, several teeth or a full arch of missing teeth.
Dental implants are considered by many people to be the most long-lasting solution to missing teeth. Unlike dental bridges, they do not rely on surrounding teeth. One disadvantage to dental implants is that the procedure is more extensive than the procedure to place bridges. Dental implants also tend to be costlier than other dental restorations, including bridges.
As the name suggests, dental bridges “bridge” the gap left by one or more missing teeth. A traditional dental bridge consists of an artificial tooth and two dental crowns attached to it. The crowns are fitted over the teeth adjacent to the gap. Unlike dental implants, bridges do not replace tooth roots. Instead, they rely on the surrounding teeth for support.
One advantage of dental bridges is that the treatment process is much shorter than that of dental implants. Creating and placing dental bridges typically takes two weeks while the dental implant process can take several months due to osseointegration. Although dental implants do involve a surgical procedure, dental bridges are considered to be more invasive in other ways because they require the removal of tooth structure from the supporting teeth.
To learn more about dental implants, bridges and the other restorative dental options Dr. Hatland offers, schedule a personal appointment. You can reach his Chicago office by calling (773) 338-4440 or our Indianapolis office by calling (317) 257-0794.