Patients with consecutively missing teeth have a few different replacement options from which to choose. Two of the most popular choices include a traditional dental bridge and an implant-supported bridge.
While similar in design, these two restorations are quite different in terms of reliability and longevity. While a traditional bridge anchors to natural teeth for support, an implant-supported restoration is connected to dental implants.
Here, our team at Brookfield Family Dentistry in Brookfield, WI discusses traditional vs. implant-supported dental bridges, and explores the similarities and differences between the two.
About Traditional Dental Bridges
Used in dentistry for decades, traditional bridges are crafted from ceramic, zirconia, or another medical-grade dental material. By design, a bridge consists of two dental crowns on either side, with prosthetic teeth, or pontics, in between them.
To make room for the restoration, the natural teeth on either side of the space require reduction. This involves removing small amounts of enamel to allow for proper seating.
Traditional bridges are natural-looking, and fully restore chewing function. When cared for and maintained properly, traditional bridges last between five and 15 years on average, sometimes longer.
About Implant-supported Dental Bridges
An implant-supported dental bridge resembles its conventional counterpart. In fact, the design is identical. The only difference, however, is that the implant-based restoration is connected to dental implants rather than natural teeth. This is optimal for a couple of reasons.
For example, implant-supported restorations:
- Preserve healthy tooth structure: Because implant-supported bridges do not rely on the adjacent teeth for support, healthy tooth structure can remain intact. This significantly reduces the risk for decay and other forms of dental damage in the future.
- Prevent bone loss: When the natural tooth roots are present, the nerves within the jawbone receive stimulation; as a result, bone volume and density are preserved. When the teeth are removed, bone atrophy can occur over time. This is why many individuals who have been missing teeth for several years have a “sunken-in” or hollowed appearance. Dental implants actively preserve existing jawbone and prevent bone degradation from occurring over time.
- Enhanced aesthetics: Because dental implants fuse to the jawbone, they become a part of your body. Once healed, implants can be used and cleaned just like natural teeth. In addition, the advanced materials used in dentistry today deliver a lifelike appearance. In fact, ceramic and zirconia reflect light in a similar fashion as natural enamel. Therefore, patients who choose an implant-supported bridge will enjoy a natural-looking smile for years to come.
- Longevity: Compared to traditional restorative options, dental implants are longer-lasting and more reliable. In fact, with proper care and maintenance, dental implants can last a lifetime.
Which Option Is Right for You?
The treatment recommended for you will depend on a few different factors, including your general health, your bone density, and your personal preferences. During a consultation at our practice, Dr. Thomas Tang can perform a full assessment of your teeth, gums, and supporting bone and review your treatment options with you in greater detail.
Traditional bridges may be an excellent option for those who do not wish to undergo surgery or for those looking for a lower upfront cost. However, it is important to note that implant-supported restorations can actually be cheaper in the long run, as they do not need to be replaced as conventional bridges do.
Schedule an Appointment Today
If you are missing teeth, schedule a consultation at Brookfield Family Dentistry. Contact us online or give us a call at (262) 821-1000.