Replacing a Missing Tooth: Dental Bridge

If you already have a missing tooth or about to have a tooth removed then you are faced with the dilemma of how to replace this tooth. You will have four options after removing a tooth.

  • You can leave the space alone and do nothing. Of course this may mean your teeth may shift and become crooked especially if you are younger, so consider if this is something that will work for you.
  • You can make a removable tooth, a partial denture. Since these can come in and out, they are the considered the least desirable solutions.
  • Place dental bridge which involves shaving down the two teeth next to the gap and connecting them together via the dental bridge, essentially several attached crowns,  supported by the neighboring teeth.
  • Place a dental implant which involves inserting an implant into the jaw bone in place of the missing tooth and once healed adding a connector and crown on top of the implant to replace the original missing tooth.

If you want to have a fixed replacement, the best solution, then you have to go with either a dental bridge or a dental implant. So what are the advantages of each one? And which option makes more sense for you?

Pros of a Getting Dental Bridge

1. Getting a bridge is easier for you and probably easier for your dentist too. A dental bridge is nothing more than several crowns connected together to close the gap created by the missing tooth. Preparing a crown or a bridge is an easy task for most dentists as it is the bread-and-butter of dentistry and most dentists have generally performed hundreds or thousands of these throughout their careers.

On the other hand many dentists are not as comfortable placing or restoring dental implants. Many will refer you out to an oral surgeon or a specialist and this will delay their profits or risk them losing you as a patient altogether. You might find your dentist not offering you a dental implant as an option or trying to discourage you from getting one for all the wrong reasons.

Don’t let the determining factor in making a decision which will affect the health of your teeth be whether or not your dentist performs a certain procedure. A good dentist should always present a dental implant as an option when eligible and allow you to make a well informed decision based on what’s best for you.

2. Bridges are a quicker fix with better temporary optionsA dental bridge connects to your adjacent teeth. This means there is no healing period required. It also means it is pretty easy to make a similar temporary bridge as you wait for your permanent one. A dental bridge holds the upper hand over the dental implant here.

  • To receive a dental bridge you only need a few visits and it is usually completed within a month or so. The dental implant will require substantial healing times and you have to allow it to heal between 4 to 6 months before a crown can be placed on top of the implant.
  • There is no need for a surgery, CT scan or any other major planning in preparation for a dental bridge as opposed to an implant.
  • Making a temporary tooth for a dental bridge is much easier and with typically nicer results. And of course you only need to wear the temporary for a few weeks rather than months.

If you are missing a front tooth your dentist can usually make you a very nice temporary fixed bridge to close the gap as you wait for your permanent bridge to arrive, so you can have a reasonable temporary tooth in place the entire time.

Making a temporary tooth for a dental implant can be much trickier. Sometimes the dentist can can place a temporary tooth on top of the implant right away (known as immediate load) but the majority of times this is not an option as the implant is not strong enough to support the tooth just yet. You may have to wear a removable false tooth, known as a denture/ flipper, for the next few months as the implant continues to heal. Alternatively you may leave it alone and go toothless for a short while but if you are missing a front tooth this may not be a very fun choice!

helpful hint – If you already have or require multiple crowns on the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth it may just be easier to simply do a dental bridge over a dental implant. For instance you may have lost a tooth in an accident and also broken a few adjacent teeth. By placing a bridge you can fix the broken teeth as well as close the gap while saving thousands on the implants and not needing an additional surgery. After all the main advantage of a dental implant is that it spares the neighboring teeth from being shaven down, but if these teeth are already slated to receive crowns then it might just be worth it to just consider doing a dental bridge after all and saving the extra headaches and bucks.

3. Bridges cost less. Most dentists charge a lot more for a dental implant over a dental bridge mainly because dental implants are more costly and much more time consuming to complete. Dental implants consist of three components that you have to pay for.

  • The implant screw
  • The connector (implant post)
  • The crown

And most dental implants typically require a bone graft, soft tissue membrane placement, sinus lift or some other additional surgical procedure to yield successful results which further adds to the price of the dental implant. As a result the dental implant will typically cost you about 50 to 100% more than a dental bridge would.

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Replacing a Missing Tooth: How to Decide