When you start researching dental implants, you may discover a lot of people comparing them to bridgework. Dental bridges are also used to treat missing teeth, but the main difference between dental implants and bridges is that bridgework is often considered a temporary fix, while dental implants are a more permanent solution. While it isn’t unusual for bridgework that is well looked after to last upwards of 10 years, dental implants offer a much more permanent solution for missing teeth.
When we talk about dental implants, we are actually talking about a replacement root. In contrast, dental bridges are a restorative option that simply fixes a prosthesis (replacement tooth) to the adjacent teeth.
As we’ve discussed previously on the blog, the dental implant procedure takes part in several steps. Firstly, the affected tooth is removed and the implant surgeon drills a hole into the jaw to make a place for the implant. After this, a titanium abutment is fitted into the implant and the dental crown (replacement tooth) is fixed to this. In more complex cases, the implant may need to be fixed to the cheekbones due to bone loss or a weakening of the bones. These are known as zygomatic implants.
In the case of dental bridges, the replacement tooth is the bridge while the adjacent teeth are the abutments. The adjacent teeth are prepared to allow them to support the crown, but this preparation process is done as conservatively as possible to limit sensitivity. The adjacent crowns are cemented to the natural teeth and provide support for the artificial tooth. Possible side effects of this process include chipped crowns, further root canal treatment to resolve increased sensitivity and even extraction.
Dental implants are reliable and functional and look almost indistinguishable from real teeth. The artificial teeth don’t decay and they are much less susceptible to gum disease than bridges. Unlike dental bridges, there is no damage to the adjacent teeth. Another advantage of dental implants is that they are permanent while bridges might only last for between 5-10 years before they will need replacing. Dental implants can also be used to replace multiple teeth, as one implant can support several teeth.