Sometimes despite a lifetime of good dental care, a tooth will be lost. Replacing a missing tooth is very important and there are several options available. Most patients today want something that stays in their mouth, isn’t removed for cleaning and lets them eat anything they want. Two such solutions are a dental bridge or a dental implant.
A dental bridge requires that we place a dental crown on the tooth in front of and the tooth behind the missing tooth space. These two “anchor teeth”, once crowned, can still get new cavities and they could need to have a root canal; these are two of the most common reasons we replace dental bridges. A dental bridge can last as long as 15-20 years, but on average you can expect it to last 7-10 years. Because the three teeth are hooked together you will no longer be able to floss between them, but we will teach you how to floss with a special device called a floss threader.
Achieving an exquisite long lasting result with a dental bridge requires several key steps. The first step will be creating a thorough treatment plan that allows us to understand the esthetic goals as well as plan for optimal function. Using the treatment plan as a guide, models of your teeth may be sent to a dental laboratory and a prototype of the bridge created in wax. This prototype is used to fabricate a transitional or temporary bridge to confirm the esthetic and functional results and make any necessary adjustments. The final step is fabrication of the final bridge and cementation over the teeth or implants being used as supports. The total time to complete this process averages 2-3 months.
A dental implant is a replacement tooth root made of titanium. It is placed into the bone in the space left by the missing tooth. Once it heals a dental crown is placed on top of this new artificial tooth root. The two teeth beside the space will not need to be crowned. and you will still be able to floss between these teeth as before. The process of placing a dental implant and crown will take 3-9 months to allow time for the implant location to heal and strengthen. Once the dental implant is ready and the crown placed, it provides long term stability with no risk of cavities and other risks are minimal. It is difficult to predict a replacement time frame as the implant and crown may be stable for many decades.
A dental implant and crown will cost between 10-15% more then a dental bridge initially, however you can expect much lower recurring costs and need for future dental treatment.