Hi, Dr James here, and I’m one of the principal dentists at Elevate Dental. This week, I spoke with Hamish from South Yarra at a smile consultation appointment. He’s had a missing tooth and he asked me, “What’s the difference between having a dental bridge or a dental implant?” As this is a common question I get, I thought I’ll make a video sharing with you what I shared with him, just in case you have the same question too.
Both the dental implant and dental bridge are considered to be very successful long-term replacements for a missing tooth or several teeth. They restore not only the function for the patient but also improves the aesthetics. They’re made to look and feel exactly like one’s own natural tooth or teeth.
A dental implant is a biocompatible titanium post, which supports a dental crown for chewing. These often function well, even after the 20 to 25 years and success rates of around 97%. A dental bridge is a series of dental crowns joined together, essentially bridging the space where the missing tooth is. This is supported by placing these dental crowns on the neighbouring teeth and most of these are still in place 15 years later. There are four main factors to consider, whether we look at a dental implant or a bridge.
Some pre-existing medical conditions can lead to a lower success rate for dental implants. In these cases, a dental bridge would be a better option.
The condition of the jaw bone in the missing tooth area. If a tooth is missing for a very long time, the bone often shrinks significantly past the limits of what a bone graft can replace. Sometimes the bone quality is also very poor and for these, we would recommend a dental bridge.
The condition of the teeth neighbouring the missing tooth space. If these neighbouring teeth are in perfect condition, we avoid treating these and recommend the dental implants only for the missing tooth. If these teeth are weak, having a dental bridge both strengthens these teeth and replaces the missing tooth space.
Timeframe, dental implants typically take months to complete or a dental bridge takes just weeks. If there is a limited timeframe for having the tooth replaced, the dental bridge is ideal.
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