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What’s the Difference Between Dental Bridges & Implants?

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A woman looks at her improved teeth in the mirror while a dentist shows her where her implants are in her mouth.

Having a missing tooth or multiple teeth can not only affect your appearance but also cause oral health issues. It can lead to bite problems, tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems. That’s why it’s beneficial to replace missing teeth as soon as possible. 

And when the choice of what to do comes up, inevitably, the conversation turns to dental bridges and implants. These procedures can replace a missing tooth with a prosthetic but use different methods.

Dental bridges “bridge” the gap between missing teeth by anchoring to adjacent teeth, while dental implants replace missing teeth by inserting a titanium post into the jawbone as an artificial tooth root.

What Is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a false tooth, or a group of false teeth, anchored to the surrounding teeth by a crown. It’s intended to replace missing teeth using other teeth as a support, effectively “bridging” the gap. A bridge can be used to replace a single tooth, but it’s typically preferred when there’s a larger gap that needs filling.

Applying a dental bridge typically begins with a thorough examination of the teeth and mouth. If any dental issues are found, they must be addressed before the dental bridge can be placed.

After confirming that the teeth on either side of the gap are healthy, they can be prepared for the dental bridge. For example, they may need to be reduced in size to make room for the crown that will fit over the top of the tooth. The dentist will then create a mould of your teeth to build a customized bridge.

Typically, a temporary bridge is placed in your mouth while you wait for the permanent one to get made. Once the permanent bridge is ready, the dentist swaps the bridge and checks the fit and aesthetics carefully. Only when everything looks good and fits comfortably can the permanent bridge be cemented in place.

Types of Dental Bridges

There are several types of dental bridges. The most common types include:

  • Traditional bridges: Traditional dental bridges contain artificial teeth held in place by dental crowns attached to the surrounding teeth.
  • Cantilever bridges: Cantilever bridges are used when there is only 1 adjacent tooth to hold the artificial teeth in place.
  • Resin-bonded bridges: Also known as Maryland bridges, resin-bonded bridges use wings attached to the back of the artificial teeth to anchor them to the adjacent teeth. This is typically used for teeth missing at the front of the mouth.
  • Implant-supported bridges: That’s right, there is a crossover between bridges and implants, as people who don’t have healthy teeth to attach the bridges to might require implants to anchor them in place.
A dentist holds onto a plastic model of teeth with a dental bridge being placed over the teeth.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are an enduring solution to tooth replacement. This procedure involves the surgical placement of a small metallic post within the jawbone, which acts as a substitute for the root of a missing tooth. A custom-made prosthetic tooth, such as a crown, is then affixed to this post.

The entire dental implant process can span several months and, much like dental bridges, requires you to be a good candidate. People who can get implants should be in good general health, have healthy gums, and have enough bone in the jaw to hold the implant. It’s possible to build up the bone with a bone graft, but that may come down to your dental specialist.

If you are a good candidate, the post can be implanted with surgery. The post requires a healing period before placing the abutment — the piece that connects the implant to the artificial tooth. The final stage involves attaching the custom-designed artificial tooth, tailored to seamlessly blend with your existing teeth.

Pros & Cons of Bridges & Implants

The choice between bridges and implants generally comes down to your specific situation. Both can support your oral health by replacing missing teeth and reducing the chance of further complications. However, they come with their own benefits and drawbacks that require you & your dentist’s consideration.

Things to consider about dental bridges include the following:

  • They can replace a row of missing teeth at once
  • Don’t require bone grafting or invasive surgery
  • Typically require fewer visits to the dentist
  • Last about 10 years
  • May require damaging surrounding healthy teeth to use a supports

Things to consider about dental implants include the following:

  • They are sturdy and can prevent bone loss
  • Can potentially last a lifetime with proper care, but the crown may need to be replaced
  • Don’t require damaging healthy teeth to place
  • The process can take months to complete
  • Are generally more expensive upfront

Whatever choice you make, both need to be treated like natural teeth. Brush and floss them just like any other tooth to protect them from bacteria and damage.

Dental Bridges & Dental Implants in Calgary

The choice between dental bridges and implants is a highly personal one, influenced by your unique dental situation and overall health. Both options offer viable solutions to replace missing teeth and restore functionality and aesthetics to your smile.

Choosing the best dental solution can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone! Rockwood Dental on 17th Ave. in Calgary can provide a comprehensive evaluation and guide you toward the appropriate decision for your smile. Book an appointment today and get 1 step closer to a healthier, brighter smile!

Written by Rockwood Dental

At Rockwood Dental, our goal is to help you achieve the healthy and beautiful smile you’ve always dreamed of.

Our team is committed to providing a personalized dental experience from beginning to end. To do this, we offer a range of dental services, including preventative dental care, restorative dental care, and cosmetic dental care.

Rockwood Dental is located at #102, 1032 17th ave., between 9th and 10th Street SW in Calgary.

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