Bridge, Implant, or Partial Denture: Why So Many Tooth Replacement Options?
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we lose a tooth. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by age 50, most Americans will have lost an average of 12 teeth. And that’s a lot of teeth to lose when you only have 32. Thankfully, there are various tooth replacement options if you are missing teeth. But which one do you choose when there are so many choices? We’ve boiled it down for you. Read on to learn about bridges, dental implants, and partial dentures so you can make an informed decision.
Deciding on the Right Tooth Replacement Option for You
Deciding on the right tooth replacement option depends on several things.
- The number of teeth you are missing
- Which teeth are missing—are they in the front, back, or both?
- Whether you are missing a row of teeth or teeth in multiple places
- The comfort you desire
- The length of time you want your treatment to last
- The cost you are willing to pay (however, we encourage patients to look at cost last, because while some treatments may be more expensive up front, they may be far more cost-effective in the long-run)
Check out the pros and cons of dental bridges, dental implants, and partial dentures.
A dental bridge is designed to bridge the gap between multiple teeth by using crowns or wings to hold the pontics (artificial teeth) in place. Dental bridges come in three forms.
A traditional bridge comprises two dental crowns and up to three pontics. Those crowns are anchored to healthy teeth on either side of the gap where the artificial teeth are suspended.
A cantilever bridge has only one dental crown and up to three artificial teeth. The cantilever bridge is needed when an adjacent tooth already has a crown in place and the patient only has one tooth next to the missing one.
And finally, there is the implant-supported bridge. This works like a traditional bridge but is anchored to dental implants versus natural teeth. Implant-supported bridges are the most durable and long-lasting of the dental bridge options.
Pros of a Dental Bridge
Dental bridges have several benefits, including:
- No surgery is required, unless you are having an implant placed.
- They are more affordable up front than implants.
- Dental bridges are more secure and comfortable than dentures.
- They look, feel, and function more like your natural teeth.
Cons of a Dental Bridge
Dental bridges also have a downside, especially compared to other tooth replacement options. Those cons are:
- Dental bridges that aren’t anchored to an implant don’t address bone loss because the pontic does not stimulate the bone.
- Traditional and cantilever bridges require alteration to healthy teeth.
- They only last about 15 years (dental implants should last 25 years or more).
Now that you know all the benefits and disadvantages, let’s discuss dental implants. Dental implants are medical devices surgically implanted into your jaw to replace your missing natural teeth. Dental implants offer the most effective way to restore your facial structure and your ability to chew. Implants look, feel, and function like natural teeth, making them an excellent restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry solution.
Pros of Dental Implants
- A dental implant can last 25 years or more if you maintain good oral hygiene.
- Dental implants are designed to look, feel, and function just like your natural tooth.
- They are the most cost-effective tooth replacement option, despite the higher up-front cost.
- You can replace as many teeth as you need to, including a full mouth restoration.
Cons of Dental Implants
Despite the many benefits of dental implants, there are also some potential perceived cons.
- The restoration on the top of your implant (crown) may wear out and require replacement.
- You need sufficient healthy bone to support dental implants.
- Up-front costs for treatment are higher than other tooth replacement options.
- The process is time-consuming—six to eight months on average (eight months if you require a bone graft).
The most common tooth replacement option for those with missing teeth is partial dentures. These are removable yet natural-looking oral devices that help restore the form and function of your jaw. Most people envision artificial teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, similar to an orthodontic retainer. And that’s a pretty good summary of how this appliance works.
Pros of Partial Dentures
- They are less invasive than bridges or implants.
- Additional false teeth can be added to the partial in the event of subsequent tooth loss.
- Partial dentures are viewed as a superior option to a complete denture and can be used to replace a lost tooth in the lower jaw, especially if some natural teeth can be preserved.
- Partial dentures are the least expensive in terms of up-front costs.
Cons of Partial Dentures
- You need to get accustomed to having partial dentures in your mouth.
- This is the least comfortable and natural feeling of all tooth replacement options.
- Partial dentures can slip in the mouth, causing pain, discomfort, and embarrassment.
- The abutment teeth and gums may be exposed to trauma due to the pressure and movement of the partial.
- They must be removed at night for sleeping and need to be cleaned regularly.
My Chico Dentist is your partner for all your tooth replacement options.
If you are missing teeth, we want you to know that My Chico Dentist offers a warm and inviting office environment. Not only that, but we’re easy to work with. We have a skilled prosthodontist on the team who can work with you to determine the best tooth replacement options based on your needs. We even offer a loyalty plan to help you afford restorative dentistry care.
Request an appointment today and experience how tooth replacement will give you the smile makeover you want and deserve.