Dentures, Bridges, Or Dental Implants?

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO REPLACE A TOOTH?

While both dentures and implants will fill the gaps left by missing teeth, there are other important considerations to be aware of when making a choice for dental repairs:

  • biocompatibility
  • durability
  • comfort
  • cost

THE EXPENSE ASSOCIATED WITH IMPLANTS

The higher cost of dental implants can be the biggest obstacle for many patients to overcome when it comes to replacing one or more missing teeth. Despite their aesthetic and greater functional superiority the initial price of dental implants can cause many people to lean towards more conventional and less expensive options like bridges or dentures.

SUCCESS IN THE SHORT TERM

Second to cost, another attractive aspect to dental bridges or dentures is the quick turnaround time since they can be ready and fitted at about 2 weeks, while dental implants take longer to become fully integrated into the mouth and jaw before they reach their peak performance level

However, there are a few additional costs associated with dentures and bridges which can include:

  • restoring decayed teeth surrounding bridges
  • treating gum disease caused by improperly fitted dentures and difficult to reach pockets created by bridges
  • maintaining, repairing and replacing partial or fully removable dentures

THE REAL COST OF SHORT SIGHTEDNESS

The actual physical structure of a jaw without teeth will initially shrink quite rapidly most particularly during the first six months — and more slowly over time for the remainder of the patient’s life. Consequently, when a denture is made to fit a person’s jaw it will need to be remade and refitted as the jawbone shrinks.

The teeth in a denture appliance eventually wear down and become less effective at chewing food. Worn denture teeth naturally cause a person to bite and chew with more force, pushing the denture into the jawbone, causing the bone to shrink at an even faster rate. Jawbone deterioration and loss is the major problem with removable dentures, a problem that also works to increase the speed of a person’s aging process. Grinding of the teeth will decrease the life of a denture also.

When a dental bridge is used to replace missing teeth, the supporting or adjacent teeth have to be ground down in order to make room for the support post of the bridge. Once the adjacent teeth have been altered in this way they become susceptible to damage and tooth decay. It is quite difficult for patients to properly clean the areas around and under dental bridges, which causes an accumulation of dental plaque and an increased susceptibility of tooth decay and gum disease. As in the case of dentures, the jawbone in the area where teeth are missing will shrink, weaken and deteriorate over time, which can cause the surrounding teeth to become loose, change position and even fracture in some cases. This mobility of the teeth will then create a situation where the structural integrity of the bridge is at risk.

THE BEST LONG TERM SOLUTION

The average long term success rate of dental implant surgery in a healthy patient with good bone structure is over 95 percent. This figure can change to between 85 and 90 percent in patients who require bone grafting to increase density and to ensure that the implant will anchor well. For smokers, the failure rate of dental implants is about two times higher compared to non-smokers. Experienced implant dentists have success rate records as high as 99 percent for patients with healthy jawbone and gums. One of the most appealing aspects of a dental implant is that it works just like a natural tooth, without requiring any special care and without causing any damage to adjacent teeth. The only requirement to ensure the long life of a dental implant is for the patient to continue to maintain good dental health and proper daily oral hygiene – exactly as they would for natural teeth.

LASTING RESULTS

Once a dental implant has been placed and has properly integrated into the bone (a process called osseointegration) that implant can be expected to last for a lifetime, whereas dental bridges require replacement every ten years on average (due to bridge failure or adjacent teeth failure). Dentures also need to be replaced or modified about every five to ten years due to improper fit and bone loss. Therefore, although the initial expense for dentures and bridges may be relatively low, over time that cost will rise as repairs and replacements are needed, and as oral treatments are required due to gum disease and repair or loss of surrounding teeth. General health will also be affected as ill-fitting dentures do not allow for proper and efficient chewing.

Dental implants provide a much better aesthetic and functional results compared to alternative dental restorations. They help to ensure that a patient will be able to maintain their usual eating habits, keep a natural appearance and speak and chew without the embarrassment often caused by removable dentures.

The Difference Between Metal-Free Dental Implants And Bridges

METAL-FREE DENTAL IMPLANTS VS. DENTAL BRIDGES

The science of ceramic, metal-free dental implants provides a comfortable and natural alternative to bridges for patients who have suffered tooth loss. Metal-free dental implants are made of the ceramic component of zirconium also called zirconium oxide or zirconia. Due to zirconia’s physical and optical properties, metal-free implants are all-white in color , highly attractive in appearance,  and look and feel like natural teeth so much so that you might forget that you ever lost a tooth (for more information about the cosmetics of metal-free dental implants, please read The Cosmetics of Ceramic Dental Implants).

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DENTAL IMPLANTS AND BRIDGES?

A conventional dental bridge can be made with a metal framework or entirely from porcelain or zirconia. However whether its metal based or ceramic, it is created by using adjacent teeth to support a pontic, or fake tooth. In this way, otherwise healthy teeth are often ground down and crowned (or “capped”) to facilitate a bridge to span the space where teeth are missing. So what is the difference between a bridge and a dental implant? A dental implant is applied directly into the jawbone mimicking the tooth’s natural structure without touching the surrounding teeth. An even better method of tooth replacement is by using zirconia implants therefore taking advantage of its metal-free and extremely stable physical properties. Zirconia dental implants do not corrode or breakdown when in contact with oral fluids, furthermore little to no plaque (tartar) accumulate on their surface.

HOW LONG DO DENTAL IMPLANTS AND BRIDGES LAST?

FAQ ABOUT DENTAL BRIDGES:

Most dental bridges last from 5-10 years before needing to be replaced. A bridge relies on the adjacent teeth and on the bridge’s structure for support. Surrounding teeth lose their strength due to being ground down to support a bridge and are susceptible to decay and even fracture due to loss of enamel and tooth structure in the process.

FAQ ABOUT METAL-FREE DENTAL IMPLANTS:

Metal-free dental implants can last a lifetime and are placed directly into the bone where the teeth are missing. They do not adversely affect the adjacent healthy teeth, do not corrode or conduct low level electrical currents in the oral cavity. These low level electrical currents also called galvanic currents will lead to events ranging from weakening of conventional metal implants to the death of bone cells around implants;  this eventually leads to implant loosening and failure. Zirconia implants bond to the jaw bone and become part of it without affecting it – making a connection often stronger than a natural tooth root.

DO BRIDGES AND METAL-FREE IMPLANTS CAUSE BONE LOSS?

Dental implants act as substitute tooth roots, providing the same function as natural tooth roots including stimulating the bone in the most natural way possible.  When teeth are removed or lost due to trauma or infection the underlying bone is no longer used, frequently resulting in a weakened jaw and bone loss. This makes it difficult to smile, chew and do other things most of us take for granted.

FAQ ABOUT DENTAL BRIDGES:

When teeth are lost or extracted, the bone that previously supported those teeth no longer serves a purpose and begins to deteriorate, or ‘resorb’. When a bridge is used to connect two teeth, normal pressure is not applied on the jawbone in such a way that the bone is stimulated as it would be in a healthy mouth, leading to bone loss in the area where the tooth was lost. Eventually the bone loss spreads to the supporting teeth of the bridge which over time gets loose, fractures and/or fails.

FAQ ABOUT METAL-FREE DENTAL IMPLANTS:

Just like metal (titanium) implants, replacing teeth with metal-free dental implants involve placing an artificial root made of zirconia back into areas where there are no teeth. This results in renewed stimulation of the bone in the jaw preventing long term bone loss, thereby preserving and strengthening the structure of the jaw.

Not only do dental implants sit securely in the jaw and look like natural teeth, they also offer superior durability and outstanding aesthetics. Implants of a variety of materials have been used successfully for about 40 years and the latest generation of ceramic implant systems made of zirconium oxide (zirconia) take the science of dental implants to the next level.

ARE DENTAL BRIDGES OR CERAMIC IMPLANTS EASIER TO CLEAN?

Caring for dental implants is very much like caring for natural teeth by following standard oral health care measure such as brushing and flossing.

FAQ ABOUT DENTAL BRIDGES:

Flossing bridges is not an easy task and requires time, patience and consistency making it difficult to follow routine everyday oral hygiene which can leave the underlying natural tooth structure at risk of decay and gum disease. Almost invariably over time decay occurs under supporting crowns of the bridge leading to the need for root canal treatment or tooth loss altogether.

FAQ ABOUT METAL-FREE DENTAL IMPLANTS:

Individual dental implants allow easier access between teeth making it possible for patients to resume normal dental care. Furthermore zirconia dental do not collect plaque around them allowing for healthier gums and underlying bone.

SHOULD YOU CHOOSE A METAL-FREE DENTAL IMPLANT OR A BRIDGE?

The bottom line for most people who have experienced tooth loss is that dental implants are a better solution. Implants are the closest thing possible to natural teeth, are fixed in place and offer a healthy alternative for oral and bone health, plus they support general well-being. Patients, who have metal-free dental implants a less likely to develop metal sensitivity over time, remark that they look better, feel better and are more confident.