If you are reading this it is highly likely that you or someone you know has missing tooth or even missing teeth. Replacing a missing tooth is not cheap, and it shouldn’t be. It is a long term (lifetime) investment in your overall oral health. Replacing missing teeth is much more than just cosmetic. When you lose a tooth and it is not replaced, the rest of your teeth can drift out of position and create tight spots that are harder to clean. These tight spots can lead to other problems like decay and gum disease. In severe cases the mouth’s entire bite pattern can become misaligned, causing bite problems and increased stress on the jaw joints. The bone and gum tissue around the missing tooth will eventually shrink if the tooth is not replaced; this makes it a lot more challenging to create a natural looking and well fitting replacement.

Let us take a look at the options a person with missing teeth has to replace them:

Bridges = A common name for a fixed prosthesis dental restoration in which the existing teeth on either side of the gap are ground down to serve as anchor points to cement a dental fixture. A bridge is a single fixture made of three parts, the crowns on either side and the replacement (for one or more teeth) between them is called the pontic. Some bridges are removable.

Removable Partial Dentures = As the name implies, this is a partial denture (for a few teeth only or multiple teeth as opposed to full mouth) that is not permanently fixed and can be removed. This dental restoration consists of replacement teeth attached to pink or gum-colored plastic bases, which are connected by metal framework. They attach to the existing teeth with metal clasps (hooks) or through smaller metal attachments on the denture and on the existing teeth.

Dental Implants = Permanent dental restoration which consists of a titanium cylinder or screw, it is surgically placed beneath the gum and directly into the bone tissue where it then bonds and fuses. A temporary attachment can be placed to mold the gums and create a more natural look before a custom made crown is placed on top of the implant to complete the restoration.

Dental implants are seen as a permanent solution because they become part of your body. They are fused to your jawbone and will never need adjusting or replacement, which I have seen happen many times with bridges and dentures. That means they never have to be removed for cleaning, you clean them and care for them as you would your natural teeth.

Bridges need to use the existing neighboring teeth as abutments, or anchor points. Grinding down these teeth to stubs or posts removes all of the tooth’s enamel. This leaves those teeth highly vulnerable to decay, which could cause the entire restoration to fail, I have seen this happen. Most bridges are expected to last about 5 years before needing adjustment or replacement.

I have noticed that a lot of partial dentures do not look like natural teeth, it is pretty obvious that the fixture can come on and off because they do not mold to your gums the way implants do, they simply sit on top of the gums and the pink plastic base which is meant to resemble your gums usually does not. This less than ideal fit is one of the reasons that partial dentures must be adjusted over time, as the gum and bone tissue can be worn down by the partial denture itself, or by periodontal disease.

Dental implants are by far the most natural looking tooth replacement option because they function exactly like your natural teeth. In fact, dental implants are so durable and carry such a high success rate that bridges and dentures or partial dentures are routinely held in place with dental implants. This approach is much more beneficial to the patient’s oral health as it preserves the bone and gum tissue and prevents them from wearing down or shrinking; a costly problem with bridges and dentures that are not supported by dental implants which may require frequent adjustments and even replacements.

If you have any questions regarding dental implants please feel free to leave a reply here or send Dr. Silvera an email using the contact form to the right.

One Response to “Dental Implants vs. Bridges and Partial Dentures”

  1. TRACEY says:

    I lost four front teeth, that were crowned. Rootcanaled. The dentist indicated they all need to be pulled out. Top front, ugly! So, option was partial or implants. Then she said they may be able to do two outside implants with two inside being bridged, not implanted. Saves money I am sure. It is Oct. Teeth will be extracted next week. I am getting a flapper made in the meantime. How long do I need to wait before I can begin the implant/bridge process. I live in the Lowell,MA, do you have an idea of that cost? Would I see a peridontist? Currently, I am working with Gentle Dental and like them. Please advise some thoughts and thank you very much.

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