If you've lost more than one tooth in a row due to trauma or decay, the resulting gap can create serious problems while chewing and lower your self-esteem. There are a few different replacement options available from a cosmetic dentist. A dental bridge and dental implants are among the most popular for multiple teeth missing in a row.
Here are a two considerations if you're trying to decide between a bridge and dental implants to fill the gap in your smile.
1. Recurring Dental Problems
Lifestyle choices and genetics can make you prone to recurring dental problems. These problems can include a weakened jawbone, receding gums, and even teeth that are prone to damage or decay. It's important to consider any recurring problems when choosing between a dental implant and a bridge.
Dental implants require a healthy jawbone to hold the metal root, and healthy gum tissue to keep the root covered. A weakened jawbone in one area can be fixed with a bone graft – and receding gums with a gum graft – but if it's a recurring problem the fix might not last for long. And the return of a weak bone or gums can threaten the health of the implant.
Dental bridges don't require a strong jawbone or high gums, but do necessitate that the neighboring teeth remain healthy. For a bridge, artificial crowns are made for the teeth on each side of the gap to hold hanging artificial teeth in the middle. If those crowned teeth become structurally unsound, the crowns can loosen or fall off and compromise the bridge's stability.
2. Long-term Costs
Dental implants are expensive upfront and the cost alone might take this option off the table for some patients. But if you can afford the upfront cost, the relatively long life of the implants might make it pay off in the long run. Each single implant has an expected lifespan of about 10 years if proper oral hygiene is followed.
A dental bridge can generally last about as long as a dental implant. But if you have frequent dental issues such as infections, chipping, or cavities the supporting teeth can weaken the overall health and longevity of the bridge.
If you're worried about the stability of a bridge, there are also implant-supported bridges as an option, which snap the artificial teeth down over implant roots at each end. But those will also add cost to your overall treatment and work best when several teeth are missing in a row.