If you’ve lost a single tooth, there are some things you should know before you decide on a tooth replacement option. Generally speaking, there are two ways to replace a tooth: a dental bridge and a dental implant. A direct comparison can show you how the options differ and help you decide which is right for you.
At Lake Lanier Smiles, our dentists provide high-quality affordable dentistry to keep your family’s smiles healthy and bright. Visit our Buford, GA dental office to learn more about the importance of replacing a lost tooth. Before you opt for any treatment option, we will explain the process, cost, and benefits of our services, so you can be sure you are making the right choice.
No dental insurance? No problem! We offer specials and an in-house Smile Value Plan to help our uninsured patients get the dental care they deserve. Contact us online or call us at (770) 831-0559 for an appointment.
Dental Bridges and Dental Implants
A dental bridge replaces a missing tooth using the surrounding teeth as a support. Much like a bridge over water, the prosthetic tooth is connected to dental crowns that cover and protect the teeth adjacent to your gap. A dental crown gives you back the ability to chew your food properly, and prevents your teeth from shifting out of alignment.
Dental implants are different from bridges because they replace the whole tooth, root to crown, and do not rely on other teeth for support. A small titanium screw is implanted in the gum tissue and a dental crown is attached at the gum line after the screw has fused with the jaw bone. Dental implants feel similar to natural teeth, are not susceptible to cavities, and are a permanent replacement for most patients.
Time and Process: Bridges can be completed in one to two weeks, with two dental appointments. Dental implants have a longer timeline, since it may take three months or more before the implant is stable enough to support a crown. Implants require initial surgery, a healing period, and abutment placement surgery before the final restoration can be placed.
Cost: Dental implants cost a good deal more than dental bridges, but rarely need to be replaced. Bridges, on the other hand, have a finite lifespan, and will need to be checked regularly for failure.
Care and Maintenance: Dental bridges require some adjustment to your normal oral hygiene routine, as you must floss below the bridge daily. The bridge itself cannot decay, but the supporting teeth are still vulnerable to bacteria and the gum tissue may develop signs of gum disease. Many patients choose to switch to a water flosser (Waterpik) to make this easier. Dental implants must also be flossed at the site of the abutment, but this can usually be achieved with loose dental floss.
On the whole, dental implants are a much greater investment of time and money, but they save you future costs on dental work replacement and they provide a more natural-feeling replacement for your lost tooth. Dental bridges are the more common and affordable option, but they are not as permanent.
Don’t Delay the Inevitable!
Regardless of which option you choose, the important thing is that you do replace your missing tooth in a timely fashion. When a gap is left untreated, teeth can shift into less-than-ideal alignment, which makes them more vulnerable to cracking, decay, and other damage. The sooner you replace your missing tooth, the less likely you will be to lose more teeth in the future.
How to Prepare for Tooth Replacement
The best way to prepare for tooth replacement is to continue to brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride-based toothpaste, and floss daily. Taking good care of your teeth and gums is always important, but it can also help reduce the chances of complications and sensitivity during and after tooth replacement.
If you are getting a bridge, remember that you will have temporary crowns on your teeth after the first appointment, and may need to adjust your diet to allow you to be gentle on the temporaries. If you are getting a dental implant, you will also need to eat soft foods and get lots of rest after your initial surgery to help the gum tissue heal undisturbed. Eating a varied diet, rich in healthy fruits and vegetables, and getting adequate sleep is also a great way to help your body stay strong and resistant as you heal.
At Lake Lanier Smiles, we make tooth replacement affordable for you and your family. Call our Buford, GA dental office today at (770) 831-0559 to find about our options for patients without dental insurance.