Dental Implants vs a Dental Bridge – Single Missing Tooth Replacement Created by MJubbs on 5/24/2011 8:14:37 AM
When choosing between a dental bridge and a dental implant for a replacement of a singe tooth there are several advantages and disadvantages of each method which should be taken into account. These issues are discussed here.
Dental implants are now considered to be the ideal solution for replacing missing teeth compared with dental bridges; this is especially the case when only one tooth is required to be replaced.
Before dental implants became common-place, the most effective way to treat an individual with a single missing tooth was with a three-unit bridge - also commonly referred to as a three three-tooth bridge. This kind of dental bridge works by linking a row of three false teeth alongside one another, the middle tooth to bridges the gap and the false tooth on either side are fixed over natural teeth. Even though this kind of dental treatment was previously regarded as the best available treatment for decades, it is not now thought of as the perfect solution.
One of the drawbacks of a three unit bridge is that it requires the teeth on either side of the gap to be shaped and reduced in size so as to enable the bridge to be fitted over the top. Since the three teeth of the dental bridge are fixed together, they must be cleaned in a different way to natural teeth. To achieve this they, require specialised dental cleaning equipment to ensure surrounding gum tissue remains healthy.
Dental implants are now the preferred choice for the replacement of missing teeth. In the instance of an implant to replace a single tooth, the completed implant will also function as a substitute for the root of the tooth and also the tooth itself. With implants there is no need for specialised cleaning tools, unlike with dental bridges. They can be maintained by regular brushing and flossing, in the same way as you would look after natural teeth. Although dental implants do not decay, they will need to be maintained with an effective oral hygiene routine.
How Long Will Implants or Bridges Last?
The dental implant itself (the part which is implanted into the jawbone) should last for the lifetime of the patient; however the dental crown (the false tooth which is connected to the implant via an abutment) is not expected to last for ever. Implant crowns last for a different length of time depending on how they are looked after and the individual patient.
From implants carried out in the early days of the procedure, dental crowns which were expected to last for only three to five years proved to continue to last for ten or even twenty years, if they were thoroughly looked after. In contrast, more modern implant crowns which are designed to last for more than ten years may only last for a couple of years if an effective oral hygiene routine is not practiced.
The cost of dental implants verses the cost of a dental bridge is difficult to calculate exactly. In general it is not possible to accurately predict the longevity of a dental implant, but the life span of the implant crown can be increased by brushing twice a day, regular flossing and visiting your dentist every 6 months for an oral hygiene appointment.
How does the cost of a dental implant crown compare to a three-unit bridge?
In the UK, the cost of a conventional dental bridge can vary from around £600 to £1,200, whilst the cost of a single dental implant is likely to be between £1200 and £2000 depending on which clinic carries out the work. In the US a dental bridge is expected to cost between $2000 and $3000 and a single dental implant would usually cost between $3000 and $5000.
Long-term Maintenance Costs
If the teeth on either side of a bridge fail due to periodontal disease or tooth decay, extensive dental restoration will need to be carried out up the complete area of the dental bridge; this may possibly involve the addition of a new level of filling to build-up the teeth on either side of the bridge. The cost dental work to provide a foundation underneath a dental bridge may also include expensive of the construction a new three unit bridge.
If and when the crown of a dental implant needs to be replaced due to the crown material wearing down, the only cost would be for the replacement dental crown and would not involve additional work on the teeth on either side. In general, cost of maintaining a dental implant over an individual’s lifetime is expected to be far less than compared with the cost of maintaining a dental bridge.
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