This forum post deals with a common question that goes through many peoples minds once a tooth has gone missing; should I get prostheses, or should I go ahead and invest in a dental implant? There is no easy, straight forward answer to this question, as what is more worth it depends on the patients oral condition, how many teeth are missing, which teeth are missing, the patients financial background, whether or not other medical conditions exist, and a host of other things. I merely intend to compare the two types of treatment, and hope to be able to provide some insight into a most difficult choice.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is drilled surgically into the jawbone of the recipient. They tend to last for an extremely long time, if everything goes well around 15-20 years. Only people who have healthy jawbones can get them though, so if you are losing teeth due to periodontitis, osteoporosis, or have diabetes, HIV or any sort of disease that thins your bones, you cannot get a dental implant. It takes about 3-4 months to get a dental implant, and that is at its quickest, if your jawbone needs to be enriched through a bone graft, the process can take up to a year, but at the very least six months.
Bridges are dental prostheses, they are basically a row of crowns, meant to replace several teeth that were next to each other. They can be entirely self sufficient, and go on top of an existing tooth stub or a dental implant, or they can be bonded to teeth next to the area where the teeth are missing. They take about 1-2 weeks to receive, and almost anyone can get them. They optionally come with artificial gum material as well that houses them.
Which one to get
Let’s face it; dental implants are a lot more expensive than bridges. A single dental implant can have a maximum of 3 crons on it, so a three part bridge can sometimes go on top of the implant, but you would need to buy the bridge as well, so if price is a serious issue, definitely get the bridge.
Bridges tend to last about 10 years if rigorous oral hygiene is maintained and followed, if not, the life span can be cut in half, or even more. A dental implant is a thing that you get for life, once it is inserted into the jaw, it will remain there, and if properly maintained, it will continue to fulfill its function forever.
If you are replacing a lot of teeth, like lets say 6-12 teeth, then a bridge is a much more sensible thing to get, as that will be much cheaper, and getting 12 teeth replaced will require quite a bit of surgery to be performed. That may be negative, but once you have the implants, you may still need to get a new bridge every 10 years or so.
On the other hand, without dental implants, tooth loss will continue as the alveolar tissue starts to atrophy from lack of teeth being present, and this will lead to more tooth loss, regardless of the bridge being present. In other words, bridges can alleviate the symptoms of tooth loss altogether, but they do not tackle the problem that causes the condition.
These are the main things to consider when choosing between a dental implant and a bridge. I hope this has been informative, and making up your mind will be a little bit easier.