Why dental implants?
Implants are a fixed alternative to removable dentures. They may be the only option when the loss of teeth has caused the mouth to shrink so it can no longer support dentures.
Implants are artificial roots directly implanted into the gum and bone. Implants offer a long-lasting and discreet choice of treatment for replacing teeth.
How is an implant fitted?
The underlying structure of a tooth is more complicated than most people appreciate. This structure includes bone, ligaments, and nerves. The tooth's neighbouring area begins to deteriorate when this structure is removed.
Your dentist installs the implant directly into your jawbone drilling titanium screws (see image above). Titanium is biocompatible. I.e. it is not rejected by the body and the metal will fuse with the surrounding living bone.
Over the period of a couple of months, new bone should grow around the implanted metal. The new structure is tested by your dentist. Once secure enough, your dentist will screw a crown on top of the implant and sealed into place.
How the replacement parts fit to your mouth and other teeth is of utmost importance. Hence they can take time to prepare. Which means they are usually unavailable on your first visit to the dentist.
Does replacing several teeth, for example, three teeth, need three implants? Not necessarily. That's where the dental bridge comes in.
A dental bridge attaches to the remaining healthy teeth surrounding a gap. This create a bridge across the area in a recipient’s smile.
The two teeth on opposite sides of the gap are shaved down to accommodate a bridge. A cap is then placed over each tooth acting as columns for the bridge. Which replaces the missing teeth.
Implants and Bridge Mixed Approach
Dentists can recommend a mixed approach. Usually when patients have lost a significant number of teeth in a row.
For example, the loss of all the molars may mean your dentist needs to put in an implant at one end. I.e. where there is no longer a tooth. Your dentist may then attach a cap at the other end, creating a bridge from the implant post to the healthy tooth.
Implants vs Bridges, Pros & Cons
Dental implants place less of a burden on the surrounding teeth. This promotes healing of bone structures and gums under the teeth. Bridges place greater strain on surrounding structures. Particularly on the two teeth at each end of the bridge.
Dental implants tend to reduce long-term risks posed to the jaw. Generally, a high-quality dental implant lasts a lifetime. With bridges, long-term issues arising from bone loss will continue to advance. Even after the bridge addresses the gap. For this reason, a bridge rarely lasts a lifetime.
Each implant procedure is expensive compared to a dental bridge. Because of the surgery involved. Thus it's common for dentists to recommend a dental bridge when replacing a large number of teeth. Instead of many implants.
Expected Healing Time
Implants take longer and require several procedures to complete. Oral surgery is often required. And your mouth may take months to heal following the initial implant procedure. Bridge work will take no more than a few weeks in most cases.
The Right Choice for You
All types of implant share one common benefit. With an implant, you can get your confidence back. Whether it’s in your smile, how you eat or when you talk.
Which one is for you? Your trusted dentist can make the right recommendation for you. After carefully weighing the specific considerations of your situation.