Implants Versus Dentures and Bridges

Dental implants are increasingly becoming a popular alternative to dentures and bridges. Compare the options and see why:

Tooth-supported fixed bridge. The most common alternative to dental implants for a single tooth, fixed bridges involve grinding away – in other words, intentionally damaging – healthy adjacent teeth that are used to attach and support the bridge. The tooth-supported bridge does not stimulate natural bone growth beneath it, so the bone may deteriorate over time. Bridges generally fail after 5-10 years because patient have difficulty flossing them, which makes the root surfaces below and around the bridgework highly susceptible to decay.

Removable partial dentures. Although these don't require grinding down adjacent teeth, they are not nearly as stable or comfortable as dental implants and can affect speech and eating. This type of restoration is less expensive but doesn’t look as natural or function as well as an implant-supported crowns. The bone underneath a removable partial denture may deteriorate over time, changing the appearance of your smile and face.

Resin-bonded bridge. Also called Maryland Bridge, this is sometimes considered for replacing front teeth that don't endure the biting and chewing demands of back teeth. It has wings on each side to attach to healthy, adjacent teeth but usually doesn't involve preparing, or grinding down, other teeth. A resin-bonded bridge looks and functions better than a removable denture but isn't as strong as fixed bridgework and typically doesn’t function or last nearly as long as dental implants.

 

Removable complete denture. This denture sits on top of the gums where the missing teeth were. It can be uncomfortable, affect your ability to experience the full taste of food, cause sore gums, and shift and click in your mouth when you speak, eat, smile, yawn or cough. While the initial costs are low, they only last an average of 5 to 10 years, and the replacement costs can be significant over the long term. They need to be removed regularly for cleaning, which can be a time-consuming hassle. Also, as with a partial denture, the natural bone underneath a complete denture may deteriorate over time, permanently changing the appearance of your smile and face. 

The advantages of dental implants, compared to alternatives such as dentures and bridges:

  1. You’ll look and feel great. Dental implants feel, look, fit and function like
    healthy, natural teeth. They’re so comfortable you don’t have to think
    about them. You brush and floss them just like you do your natural
    teeth – no need to remove them for cleaning. They also help you retain
    your natural face shape and smile

  2. They’re built to last. Dental implants that are properly cared for can last
    many decades. Many other options, including certain types of dental
    bridges and dentures, may need to be replaced as often as every 5 to 10
    years, requiring a more significant investment of time and money

  3. You can live life with confidence. Your dental implants will be secure, so
    they won't slip or click when you talk, eat or laugh. You'll also find that your speech is more natural. With dental implants, you'll have the peace of mind to eat what you love, say what you want to say, be as active as you want and smile broadly

  4. They protect facial bone and healthy teeth. Leaving empty spaces in your mouth after losing one or more teeth can lead to health issues such as jawbone deterioration. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that actually helps stimulate bone growth and prevent bone loss. Getting dental implants as soon as possible after losing a tooth helps prevent bone loss at the site. Also, dental implants don't require grinding down adjacent teeth to anchor bridges or attach partial dentures

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Dr. Robert O. Wolf, DDS, FAGD, FASDA

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