Shelby Township Dentist Explains Tooth Replacement Options

During a new patient exam my patient asked what the difference was between a bridge and implant to replace a missing tooth? I thought this would be a good question to address considering how implants are becoming the standard of care.

Both procedures are considered when there are loose teeth. You can consider either option when you want your missing tooth replaced with something that doesn’t have to be removed. Let me explain further.

In general it is best to replace a missing tooth because of the long term problems that develop with a missing tooth. These are:

1.Movement of opposing and adjacent teeth to the removed tooth, in other words your teeth will shift as the bone shrinks and spaces will occur between the teeth on either side of the missing space. This leads to gum problems, food getting caught between the teeth and difficulty chewing food because it gets wedged in the gum.

2.Bone Loss that develops naturally when teeth are removed. Bone is living so when it is not stimulated with a tooth or implant it starts to shrink.

3.Your appearance suffers from an unsightly missing tooth. I have seen patients’ attitude and confidence really suffer due to missing teeth.

4.The face becomes “sunken in” giving an older appearance as your teeth shift around and the gaps between your teeth become larger.

A fixed bridge uses the teeth next to the space to act as anchors whereas dental implants depend on the bone to hold and attach the tooth.

Factors to consider when deciding if a fixed bridge or an implant would be the best solution are:

    • If there are previous fillings in the teeth next to the space- If the teeth next to the space have large fillings or crowns, then they can be strengthened by crowning, therefore a bridge may be indicated.
    • The size of the space between teeth- If there are more than 3 missing teeth in a row a fixed bridge may not work effectively because too much stress and force will be placed on the supporting teeth.
    • if the teeth supporting the bridge are stable-If the teeth adjacent to the space are loose, then implants may be the best choice so that additional stress doesn’t have to be applied to the teeth.
    • The location of the space in the mouth. The further back you go back in the mouth, the more stress is placed on the teeth. If there is adequate bone, implants may be indicated to add support to the back teeth.

Dental implants are the most natural and strongest method to replace the missing teeth since it most closely replicates our natural tooth. Because the implant is placed in bone, the bone is constantly stimulated. This stimulation prevents the bone from the natural process of shrinking when teeth are removed.

The cost of replacing a missing tooth with an implant versus a fixed bridge is about the same. The investment cost for an implant may be slightly higher, but because of the fact they usually last longer than fixed bridges I think they are a better and most cost effective choice.

If you have this situation and are unsure or want a second opinion call us for your free consultation at 586-247-3500

Shelby Township Dentist Explains Tooth Replacement Options