If you are missing one or more teeth — or if it becomes necessary to extract them — it’s important to replace those missing teeth to prevent more serious complications down the road, such as infections, shifting teeth and further tooth loss. You basically have three possible solutions to replace missing teeth: dental implants, dentures or bridges. What’s the difference between them? Let’s take a look.
A dental bridge is so named because it “bridges” the gap left by one or more missing teeth. A bridge consists of one or more artificial teeth (depending on how many teeth are missing), suspended in place by two crowns that are attached to your real teeth on either side of the gap. This bridge covers and protects your gum line, holds your other teeth in place and look and feel like real teeth. While bridges are more economical than implants (at least in the short term), they usually must be replaced in 7-10 years.
Another economical solution to replacing lost teeth, dentures are removable false teeth designed to fit your mouth. Dentures may be partial (meaning they fill existing gaps) or complete (replacing all your teeth). Typically dentures are worn during the day, then removed and cleaned at night. The primary drawback to dentures is that they are not affixed. They must be held in place inside your mouth with adhesive, and sometimes they shift and move. They look like real teeth, but you may not be able to chew the same types of foods as you could with your real teeth. Dentures must also be eventually replaced. Dental implants can help anchor in dentures.
Dental implants are the most financial investment of the three tooth replacement options, but they are also the most permanent and most like your natural teeth. Implants require a series of procedures in which the surgeon will install titanium posts into your jaw to anchor your new teeth, then affix permanent replacement teeth to them. When complete, these implants look and feel like real teeth and may be cared for as such — and with proper care, implants can last a lifetime.
Which option is best for you — dental implants, dentures or bridges? That depends on several factors such as your oral health and your budget. To learn more about the difference between dental implants, dentures and bridges, and to discover whether you are a good candidate for each of these procedures, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.