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Fixed Bridges vs. Dental Implants

Fixed Bridges vs Dental Implants

Empty sockets or areas where teeth have been extracted or are missing bring up concerns of possible infection. The answer to retaining a beautiful smile lies in the proper replacement of these missing teeth. Today, there are more options available. Asking the right questions to your dentist and oral surgeon will help you learn which option is the best for you.

Fixed Bridges

What is it

When it comes to missing teeth, a long-time common solution has been fabricating a bridge. There are several types of bridges, the most common being a three-unit bridge used to replace a single tooth. This process requires you have two healthy teeth on either side of the empty (endentulous) space that can be “prepped” for a bridge. Prepping involves removing most of the enamel around and on top of each tooth in order to fabricate the bridge. A three-unit bridge is made up of three crowns attached together. The outer crowns are cemented over the prepped teeth and restore the original size of each tooth. The center crown is known as a pontic and is supported by the outer adjacent two crowns.

What is the cost

The cost for a three-unit bridge can vary dramatically, but on average begin around $2,000 from start to finish. This is a general quote acquired from insurance companies. There are many factors that can alter and bring the cost up to $4,000 or more. Some of these factors include the type of bridge fabricated, the materials the bridge is made from, the location in the mouth, conditions of adjacent/anchoring teeth, and additional scans or test needed.

Pros and Cons of a Fixed Bridge

Very rarely is there a situation where a three-unit fixed bridge is a better option over a dental implant. The most common reason to get a bridge over an implant is if there has been a large amount of bone recession and an implant will no longer be supported. Even in these cases, however, the bone can often be built back up and strengthened to the point of being able to support an implant. This does also mean it would be more costly to receive a dental implant in which case a three-unit bridge would at times be the better option, depending on your situation.

Much more often a dental implant will be the better option. A bridge is not a lifetime solution. On average the lifespan of a bridge is 7-9 years before they fail and need to be replaced. This means spending more money on a temporary solution for the same problem. Sounds like madness, right?

A large upset is the unfortunate need to grind down the enamel on healthy teeth. This is irreversible damage that is done so the fabricated crowns can fit over them and be used to support the pontic (the center crown filling the empty space).

Another problem with a bridge is the possible formation of hidden cavities. Our mouths fluctuate in temperature causing the material the crowns are made of to expand and contract as it passes through hot and cold cycles. The expansion and contraction cause spaces to open up between the crown and the tooth it is covering. This exposed area allows for saliva and bacteria to enter which leads to the formation of cavities. Because these cavities form underneath the crown, it is very difficult to see them on an x-ray. Patients often do not realize a cavity has formed until it is too late and the bridge has failed.

Dental Implants

What is it

A dental implant is a surgical component that integrates with the bone of the jaw or skull to replace a tooth root. They are used to support a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge, or denture. They are often made of titanium and come in a variety of sizes. Our office usually works with Nobel or Southern Implants which are companies that provide top quality implants and implant components.

What is the cost

Cost for dental implant varies the same as bridges do. There are several factors that affect the final cost. At Precision Implant & Oral Surgery, placement of a single implant begins at $1695. Factors that may impact cost include bone density, anesthesia use, location of implant, and which restorative dentist you use.

Pros and Cons of Dental Implants

One of the great things about dental implants is the durability. Often, implants are a lifetime solution to missing teeth. When placed, the surrounding bone is stimulated the same way that a natural tooth root would stimulate it and cause the bone to grow and integrate with the implant. This provides fortification so the implant becomes nearly as strong as a natural tooth. It also means that bone recession is minimized because of that stimulation.

Because implants are often a lifetime solution, this means no future problems and no future problems. People often forget which tooth is the implant over time because they function so well. Care for them is the same as regular tooth. Brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings with your general dentist.

Almost every person is a candidate for dental implants. They are quickly becoming the industry standard. Oral surgeons go through extensive training and literally place thousands of implants throughout their training. For a free 3D x-ray and consultation, please give our office a call to schedule!