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6700 West Gate Blvd, Suite 101 Austin, TX 78745


Tooth Replacement Options

Dental implant vs. Dental BridgeOne 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.

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Dental Implants – The Future of Dentistry

Have you ever wondered what a Dental Implant is and what is its purpose? A Dental Implant is a long term alternative to a Dental Bridge. Dr. Yarbrough has been placing Dental Implants for over 10 years. He completed an Implantology Preceptorship at University of Texas San Antonio Health and Science and has worked with several different implant systems and procedures. The purpose of a Dental Implant is to replace a missing tooth, increase chewing power and aesthetically improve one’s smile. Depending on whether or not a patient is a candidate for a dental implant, implants are a great alternative to a dental bridge. With proper maintenance and regular examinations and cleaning, dental implants can have a success rate up to 97%.

What is a Dental Implant?

Implant placementA Dental Implant is a titanium fixture that is placed in the jaw bone to act and resemble the root of a tooth. After several months of Osseo Integration, the implant is used as an anchor to hold a fixed tooth- like restoration called a crown or cap.

Dental Implant vs. Dental Bridge

Over the years, Dental Implants have slowly replaced the placement of Dental Bridges. A dental bridge conceptually is the same as a Dental Implant because it is used to replace a missing tooth. The biggest difference is a dental bridge involves 2 other teeth and in most cases, teeth that do not have any issues, which means we have to drill on virgin teeth, teeth that do not necessarily have decay or need a restoration. The Dental Bridge, bridges the gap between the two anchor teeth and the missing tooth. Dental Bridges act as one unit. Disadvantages are: difficulty flossing, having to drill on virgin teeth and lower success rate as almost all Dental Bridges will need to be replaced at some point. The advantage of a dental bridge vs. a Dental Implant is cost, most insurances will cover part of the cost of a dental bridge where as they will more than likely not any of the cost of a Dental Implant.

Implant CrownA Dental Implant achieves the same thing a dental bridge does; it replaces the missing tooth, increases chewing power, and helps maintain opposing teeth’s health and position. The difference between the dental bridge and Dental Implant is the Dental Implant only replaces the missing tooth, there is no drilling on virgin teeth, the success rate is up to 97%, and the procedure is simple and less invasive. The disadvantages to a Dental Implant is cost and it is a less than immediate solution as an implant has to Osseo Integration and heal before it is loaded with the dental restoration (crown). Most insurances do NOT cover the cost of a Dental Implant, however most will cover the cost of the restoration or crown.

How do I choose?

When making a decision about a Dental Implant vs. Dental Bridge consider: longevity vs. short term. It is more than likely you will have to have your dental bridge replaced at some point, which will increase your cost significantly down the road. Whereas Dental Implants rarely have to be replaced, they have a higher success rate and are affixed in the jaw bone, you can floss an implant as if it were a regular tooth, if in fact it does fail, you only replace one tooth as opposed to 3 on a Dental Bridge. When a dental bridge fails you have to replace the entire bridge so from a cost perspective, a Dental Implant is your best solution long term.

Success/Failure Rate

• Dental Implants have a success rate of up to 97%
• Dental Bridges will all fail at some point and will need to be replaced

Home Care and Maintenance

Dental Implants require very little maintenance but to increase your success rate there are things you can do to help maintain the life of an implant.
• Good Home Care (brushing, flossing daily)
• Regular Dental Examinations and Cleanings
• No Smoking

Will I hurt after my Implant is placed?

When a Dental Implant is placed there is a window of healing time that needs to take place in order to ensure the success of your Dental Implant. 4-6 months is appropriate healing time for almost all Dental Implants as it needs to Osseo Integrate (integrate into the jaw bone). Post-operative pain is very minimal; most individuals do not feel any pain after Dental Implant placement.

Does my dental insurance cover dental implants?

Most dental insurances do not cover Dental Implants, however most insurances will partially cover the crown or restoration that is placed on the Dental Implant.

What else are Dental Implants used for?

Not only can a Dental Implant replace missing teeth it can also be used to anchor removable dentures. Basically what this means is a number of Dental Implants are placed in the jaw bone acting as anchors; once they have healed or Osseo Integrated, snaps or buttons are embedded in the denture which then allow the denture to clip/snap into the Dental Implant fixtures. This gives individuals more chewing power with their dentures and also keeps the dentures in place.

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6700 West Gate Blvd
Suite 101 Austin
TX 78745