Remember when losing a tooth was fun?!? As a child we were paid to lose teeth and now, as adults, losing a tooth means replacing that tooth with (let’s be honest) a somewhat pricey dental restoration. The two most common options to replace a missing tooth are a Bridge and an Implant. So, how do we know which to choose? When making the decision between a Bridge and an Implant it is important to consider the lifespan of the dental restoration, the patient’s financial situation, and the overall dental health of the patient. “While an implant restoration is more expensive than a bridge”, Dr. Frasier states, “the prognosis is much longer than that of a bridge and the impact to the patient’s overall dental health is much better.”
The bridge is one fixed prosthetic, but spans over 3 teeth/areas and requires dental work on what might be two otherwise healthy teeth. The bone under a bridge will usually resorb/recede to a certain degree. This happens slowly, but can open a space under the bridge for food to get trapped.
An implant has 3 components as well (the surgical implant, abutment, and crown), however all 3 of these dental procedures are performed in the area of the missing tooth. The two teeth adjacent to the missing tooth area remain untreated when performing the implant procedure. An implant also maintains the bone height/volume in the area of a missing tooth.
Because an implant does not attach to the adjacent teeth, the patient is able to floss in all areas around the implant as well as the adjacent teeth. A bridge makes it more difficult to floss in the areas surrounding the bridge. This can result in recurrent decay around and under the retainer crowns and can also lead to gum disease beneath the bridge. This compromises the patient’s oral health as well as the longevity of the bridge. While gum disease is still possible around an implant, it is far easier to prevent due to the ability to properly floss in that area.
Dr. Frasier believes that an implant restoration is the best option for most patients due to the prognosis, the ability to maintain good oral hygiene, and conservative treatment of adjacent teeth. However, there are situations where a bridge would be indicated over an implant. “Sometimes there isn’t adequate bone volume to place an implant without extensive bone grafting”, explains Dr. Frasier. “Financial considerations can dictate bridge placement. If the adjacent teeth need crowns, this can make a bridge more appealing. If a bridge is the treatment of choice, detailed hygiene instructions are given to maintain the bridge as long as possible.” If you are wanting to replace a missing tooth, ask Dr. Frasier what your options are. Giving you the best treatment is our goal!