If you have a dental bridge — congratulations! You’re already taking steps to protect your oral health and dental alignment by replacing missing teeth. Approximately 69% of people 35-44 years of age are missing at least one tooth, a number that only increases with age.
People often overlook the importance of replacing missing teeth. Unfortunately, even losing a single tooth can put the rest of your smile at risk. That’s because each tooth supports its neighbor and helps stimulate bone growth in your jaw. When you lose a tooth, it compromises this system. Plus, it creates more areas for bacteria and plaque to hide, increasing your risk of decay, gum disease, and more tooth loss.
That’s where tooth replacement options can help, especially bridges and implants. But which choice is best for you — and what if you already have a bridge?
Fortunately, you don’t have to decide on your own. Dr. Caesar Sweidan and Dr. Laura Smith offer expert periodontal care at Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants, and they can guide you through your treatment options. If you have to replace some teeth, here’s what you should know about your options.
Implants versus bridges
Implants and bridges are both highly effective choices, but they work in very different ways — and, sometimes, together.
Generally speaking, implants are an industry favorite for replacing missing teeth. That’s because they use a titanium post implanted in your jawbone. It functions like a tooth root, holding the visible tooth-like crown in place.
Unlike an implanted post, a dental bridge uses your surrounding teeth to hold the replacement tooth. They come in different styles, allowing them to replace one or more missing teeth, even in multiple areas of your mouth.
You can also replace missing teeth with a combination of the two approaches: an implant-supported bridge. With this option, implants can support a bridge if you have at least three missing teeth in a row.
How to choose between an implant and a bridge
It may seem easy to pick a tooth replacement option, but the best solution varies from person to person, especially if you already have a bridge in place.
To start, the initial process for implants is a bit more involved since the post gets surgically placed in your jaw. You also need to have enough healthy bone tissue to support the implant so it can fuse in place and hold the crown. However, once you heal, the implant should last at least 15 years, making it the longest-lasting option available.
Bridges, on the other hand, don’t require surgery or a certain amount of bone tissue for support. As a result, you can get them even with underlying health conditions and without bone grafting, if you lack healthy jaw tissue. However, they usually don’t last as long as implants and come with a higher risk of damaging their support teeth. Since bridges typically need replacement every 5-7 years, it’s worth reviewing your options.
Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith can assess your existing bridge and oral health. Based on this assessment, they will help you decide on the best replacement options.
Questions to consider often include:
- The cost
- The number of missing teeth you have
- Your overall health, including conditions like diabetes and leukemia
It’s also important to consider how quickly you want solutions since implants can take 2-6 months to heal after placement.
If you have a bridge, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith can help you decide if it’s time to switch to implants. Contact Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants to schedule a consultation with our experts in Gulfport, Mississippi, today.