Many Americans are missing one or more teeth, especially older Americans. Dental implants are a relatively recently developed tooth replacement alternative that offers many advantages over traditional tooth replacement options such as a fixed bridge.
With dental implants, a metal base is surgically implanted in the patient’s jawbone. After allowing a few months for the bone to heal, a natural looking prosthetic tooth is permanently attached to the implant. The result is a replacement tooth that looks and feels like a natural tooth.
A fixed bridge is placed by attaching it to the healthy teeth adjacent to the missing tooth. The adjacent teeth are prepared by removing some of the enamel surface to allow the bridge to be placed. The bridge itself is similar to two crowns that have a prosthetic tooth supported between them. The bridge is attached to the two adjacent teeth and the prosthetic tool fills the space left by the missing tooth.
One drawback to a bridge is the necessity of removing the enamel from the healthy teeth. A bridge is also not as strong as a dental implant because two teeth bear the load of the missing tooth. In addition, a bridge will only last about 10 to 15 years before it will need to be replaced.
A dental implant is initially more expensive than a bridge, but it will last a lifetime which makes it the more cost effective solution for most patients. In addition, a dental implant requires surgery that is not necessary for a bridge. Dental implants take longer to place than a bridge. From start to finish, it can take six months to a year to place a dental implant. Finally, unlike a bridge, a dental implant does not damage adjacent teeth.
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