Dental bridges used to be the main option to replace a single missing tooth but implants now provide an increasingly popular alternative because of their multiple advantages.
A significant milestone in dentistry, implants are now widely used to improve the lives of people of all ages seeking a single-tooth replacement.
Dental implants provide a solid foundation for an artificial tooth, and they look, function and feel like natural teeth – you can brush and floss as normal and eat whatever you want.
Dental Bridges and Single-Tooth Dentures
Two kinds of bridges are commonly used to replace a missing tooth:
- Traditional three-unit bridge – a synthetic tooth anchored by crowns fixed onto the two teeth on each side of the missing tooth.
- Maryland bridge – the artificial tooth is attached directly to the teeth on either side of the gap. This eliminates the need for adjustments to adjacent teeth but makes the bridge less secure.
Single-tooth dentures are usually a temporary measure during the healing process after a tooth extraction.
A dental implant is a biocompatible rod – typically titanium – that’s surgically inserted into the socket of a missing tooth. The implant fuses with bone, and the jaw grows back around it, holding it securely in position.
An abutment is then attached to hold the artificial tooth firmly, and a crown is fitted onto the abutment.
Implants Vs Bridges
One of the problems with traditional bridges is that they may damage adjacent teeth.
Placing a three-unit bridge entails filing down the teeth on each side of the gap so dental crowns can be fitted to anchor the prosthetic tooth. The bridge also exerts heavy pressure on the surrounding teeth.
Implants avoid these issues because they don’t rely on support from adjacent teeth.
Another key advantage of implants is that they preserve bone in the jaw to maintain facial structure.
Like muscle, bone begins to waste away when not used regularly, and without stimulation from a tooth root, jaw bone can begin to deteriorate.
Bridges can’t fix this problem but dental implants are sturdy tooth root replacements that become part of your jaw and ensure its structural integrity.
An implant costs more than a bridge initially but may work out less expensive in the long run. Implants offer a permanent solution while bridges have to be replaced about every 10 years. Many insurance plans now cover implants.
Why Choose a Dental Implant?
Once considered a radical alternative option, dental implants are now regarded by dental experts and countless satisfied patients alike as the best way to replace a single tooth.
Thanks to advances in design and materials, dentists can now place implants with even greater precision.
The American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) says you’re a good candidate for a dental implant as long as your general health is good and your jaw has fully developed.
The AAID also points out that an implant is the only tooth replacement solution that helps to promote bone growth.
Other benefits of the dental implant single-tooth replacement option include:
- Long-lasting solution – a bridge may need replacing with time.
- No damage to surrounding teeth.
- Bone growth stimulation maintains your natural facial structure.
- One of the safest procedures in dentistry.
An experienced implant dentist can help you decide whether this innovative single-tooth replacement system is right for you.