One of our most common questions about replacing a tooth is, “What are my options?” “Are there any options?” “Do I have to get a bridge?”. At Westgate Family Dental in South Austin, 78745, Dr. Yarbrough and his team go above and beyond to give you as many options as possible for any or all of your tooth problems. A common issue we frequently find is the replacement of a missing tooth. Sometimes, patients lose teeth for various reasons, stemming from periodontal involvement, accident, decay etc… Regardless of the reason, it is always best to have the missing tooth replaced simply because it can cause further damage to the surrounding teeth. The adjacent teeth can lean towards the open space as well as the tooth above can begin to “hyper-erupt” to compensate for the open space. If the empty space is left too long, these damaging movements can make restoring that missing tooth very difficult.
25 years ago, options were limited for fixing this issue, the only option for many years was a Dental Bridge. A Dental Bridge is a fixed 3-4 unit bridge that is supported by 2-3 crowns on the adjacent teeth and a “fake” tooth in the middle, supplying the tooth replacement. Dentistry has vastly advanced since this one and only option as we now have Dental Implants as an alternative to the Dental Bridge. Dental Implants are a great option because they only replace the tooth that is missing and doesn’t affect any of the surrounding teeth, actually it helps the surrounding because it acts a solo tooth and because of this it gives the other teeth more strength by keeping everything in order. Dental Bridges can sometimes create more wear and tear on the existing teeth it is resting upon. Not only that, in most cases by doing a dental bridge we have to cut sometimes on virgin teeth, teeth that have absolutely nothing wrong with them in order to place the bridge. When electing an implant, there is no cutting on existing teeth but simply replacing the missing tooth by placing an implant in it’s place. The process of restoring a missing tooth with an implant is a lengthy one, but the success rate is over 90% vs. 60% for a Dental Bridge.
Advantages of an Implant vs. Dental Bridge:
- Implants take longer from start to finish approx 9 months
- Dental Bridges can be placed in less than 4 weeks
- Implants have a 90% success rate
- Dental Bridges have a 65% success rate
- Implants act as if it is one of your teeth, you can floss and brush normally
- Dental Bridges are connected and you will have to have a special floss and brush to get underneath the bridge to clean it.
- Implant as a tooth replacement option is usually more expensive
- Dental Bridges are cheaper but the success rate is lower, you have to cut on “virgin” teeth and there is more daily maintenance involved.
- Implants look like a regular single crowned tooth
- Dental Bridges usually look like they are connected
- Implants are usually not covered by insurance; Implant Crowns usually are
- Dental Bridges are usually covered by dental insurance
- Implant longevity can be about 25 years
- Dental Bridge longevity is usually around 6-8 years
At Westgate Family Dental we will explain to you all your options for tooth replacement. We like to give our patients an understanding of what they can elect for their dentistry, because at the end of the day it is your mouth and your dollar. We will always recommend the best long term option for your particular situation of course, but the choice is always yours. One thing to keep in mind is not all patients are candidates for dental implants. There are many criteria that need to be met before we can move forward with the dental implant option and if you are a candidate we will present this as an option for tooth replacement. In order to procure success for all procedures we will carefully evaluate your immediate need with an examination and x-ray(s). In some cases we need to take a panoramic x-ray to determine depth of bone to place the implant. Bone is essential to a successful implant placement as it is what makes an implant possible and viable.