Losing baby teeth is a normal process of growing, but losing adult teeth is not as uncommon as you might think. In fact, according to the global Foundation for Oral Rehabilitation (FOR), nearly 70% of adults ages 35-44 have lost at least one permanent tooth to an accident, tooth decay, or gum disease. And that statistic is only talking about middle aged adults. When we consider older populations, missing teeth are even more common. One survey even found that 26% of adults older than 74 have lost all of their permanent teeth.
As you can see, losing permanent teeth isn’t uncommon. The good news is that there are several ways to restore smiles that have lost any amount of teeth. Tooth bridges and implants are two of the most common methods used to replace missing teeth. At Ashby Dental, we specialize in both replacement options. Keep reading to learn more about how they are different and which might be right for you.
What is a Tooth Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth made out of titanium. The fake tooth includes an artificial root, which is mounted to your jawbone with screws to keep it in place. Surgery, which is done in tandem with an oral surgeon, is required to mount each implant. Once attached, the root fuses with your jawbone and surrounding tissue, and gum will grow around it as it permanently attaches to your jaw.
What is a Tooth Bridge?
A dental bridge is typically composed of several artificial teeth made out of porcelain or plastic. Rather than being screwed into your jawbone, it stays in place by attaching to surrounding teeth. Unlike tooth implants, bridges do not require surgery to remain attached, because there is no artificial root in a tooth bridge.
Tooth Implants vs. Bridges
There are several factors to consider when deciding if an implant or bridge is the best solution for your missing tooth or teeth. Ideally, your dentist will advise you on which option is better for your unique situation—they may even have an alternative option to consider. We always recommend consulting with your dentist when debating between implants or bridges, but here are some factors to consider in the meantime.
Most people will agree that implants look more natural than tooth bridges, but that is not to say that tooth bridges look bad. Because tooth implants are rooted to your jawbone, the gum is able to grow around the tooth, making it look like a cohesive part of your smile. Dental bridges can still look like a natural part of your smile, especially with today’s technology, but they may be more noticeable in the gum area.
Generally speaking, dental insurance is more likely to cover a tooth bridge over a tooth implant, so dental bridges can be a more affordable option.
The process of getting a dental implant is much longer than that of a bridge. If you opt to get a bridge, you will likely have it ready to go after just two or so visits to your dentist. Implants, on the other hand, take longer, including a one to two hour surgery to fix the implant to your jaw.
Because no surgery is required for tooth bridges, there is no recovery time. Tooth implants, however, come with a recovery time of two to six months to heal. During this time, the implant merges with surrounding bone tissue and permanently attaches to your jaw.
Tooth implants last an average of 25 years, but they can last even longer when properly cared for. Tooth bridges have a much shorter lifespan, lasting anywhere from five to fifteen years, depending on the materials used and the care given.
Does It Have to Be Either Or?
When it comes to dental work, tooth bridges and implants aren’t mutually exclusive. If you have multiple missing teeth, especially in different areas of your mouth, your dentist might suggest an approach that includes both bridges and implants. The two replacement methods can work together to create a beautiful smile.
Tooth Bridges and Implants in Berkeley, CA
If you live in Berkeley CA or the surrounding area and are in need of a tooth bridge or tooth implant, Ashby Dental can help. We can examine your teeth and offer recommendations regarding the best plan for you. Whether you are a first-time or long-time patient, our caring staff will make you feel right at home from the moment you walk in the door. Call (510) 549-0133 today to schedule an appointment.
Other Restorative Dentistry Services at Ashby Dental
In addition to tooth bridges and tooth implants, we specialize in a wide range of other restorative dentistry treatments, including:
- TMJ treatment
- Cavity fillings
- Tooth crowns
- Root canals
- Tooth extractions
- Implant crowns
- Implant dentures
- Traumatic dental injuries
Whatever the state of your dental health is, we’re here to restore your oral health and function.