So, you’ve gotten into an accident and now you’re missing a few teeth, or maybe age has caught up with you and some of your teeth just aren’t quite what they used to be. Luckily, you have some options when it comes to restoring your smile. Let’s take a brief look at a couple of procedures: implants and bridges.
Let’s start with implants.
What is an Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root made typically out of titanium that is inserted into the jawbone where the real tooth was previously located. Over a lengthy process of about six months, the artificial root fuses with the surrounding tissue to create a solid foundation for the temporary crown that is placed on top. After that, the gums continue to form and morph themselves around the structure, finalizing in a way that looks completely natural. Once this process is complete, a permanent crown will take the place of the temporary one.
What is a Bridge?
A dental bridge is exactly what it sounds like. Unlike implants which replace the whole tooth root, a bridge ‘bridges’ the space between teeth, connecting to the adjacent teeth. The surrounding teeth provide support for the new crown that is placed. In order to do that, however, the supporting teeth may have to be permanently altered and filed down to achieve optimum results.
Am I a Candidate?
Well, that depends. A consultation with your dentist will confirm which is best, but there are a number of factors standing in the way of your candidacy for each procedure.
For implants, the candidate must have fully matured, meaning that there will be no more developmental bone growth for them to go through. X-Rays and CT Scans will determine whether or not there is enough bone structure in order for an implant to be inserted. Bone density and quality are both major contributing factors to being accepted for this procedure. Patients who smoke will need to quit in order to be considered as smoking results in a higher rate of implant failure. Those who also suffer from cancer, periodontal disease, or diabetes may need to go through extra steps before they qualify as candidates.
In terms of candidacy, dental bridges are a little more lenient because of their less invasive nature. However, those who are missing multiple teeth will not be able to have this done as dental bridges rely on the surrounding teeth for support. Teeth which have chips, cracks, are in a state of decay, or are not stable will have to go through additional steps and treatments before a dental bridge can be considered.
Especially with elective cosmetic procedures which are not covered under insurance, the cost of treatments can greatly sway a patient’s opinion on which treatment to opt in for.
Implants are the more costly of the two, ranging in price from $900 to $3,000 per implant, while bridges are far less expensive, ranging from $700 to $1,500. These costs only cover the implant itself, and do not include any additional appointments that may be required either before or after the treatment itself. Your dentist will be able to provide you with a more clear and concise breakdown of costs during a consultation.
In the case of implants and bridges, it is important to consider the long-term benefits. Yes, bridges do cost less, are much less invasive, and the procedure is far shorter, but the main reason that patients choose implants is durability. Dental bridges, if cared for properly, can have a lifespan of 10 to 20 years before they need to be replaced, whereas implants will typically last well over 40 years. It is important to evaluate your unique circumstances and weigh your options carefully as replacing bridges throughout your lifetime could go well over the cost of an implant.
Speak with your dentist about your options, find out if they offer a payment plan, and ask questions for a complete and thorough evaluation.