What Are Dental Bridge Alternatives?
Nearly 69 percent of adults ages 35 to 44 lost at least one tooth to an accident, gum disease, tooth decay or failed route canal, reports the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Aside from dental bridges, there are two alternative techniques frequently used to replace these missing or teeth: dental implants and dentures.
The AAOMS reports that some denture-wearers experience issues and the appliances tend to break easily. Additionally, dentures can contribute to bone loss where teeth are missing in a person’s mouth, can fall out fairly easily and can change a person’s speech and/or chewing function. Therefore, many dentists prefer dental implants as the best dental bridge alternative.
Dental Implants: The Gist
David Allen, DMD, of W. David Allen Dentistry in Athens, GA, says determining whether a person needs a dental bridge or implant is a per-patient situation. “One person may be not be a great candidate for one over someone else,” he says. “They are both great restorations.”
The dental implant process involves a screw going into the bone of the lower jaw, fusing to the bone and then a traditional crown is attached, according to Dr. Allen.
Dental implants are made from titanium metal, according to the AAOMS.
Dental Bridges vs. Implants
“Let’s say, all the way in the back of the mouth, if someone is missing a certain tooth like a molar, we would definitely want to do an implant there because you're preserving the health of certain teeth with the implants and maintaining the bone levels,” Allen says.
On the other hand, when patients already have one or more crowned teeth, it may be equally beneficial to use a dental bridge alternative or bridge.
“If someone had to lose their first molar in the back and it had a crown on it, and the pre-molar in front of it was a ‘virgin tooth,’ you could do either,” Allen says, “Because one’s already been crowned and one’s healthy.”
However, Allen says if someone lost that first molar but already had large fillings and/or crowns on both the front and back teeth, a dental bridge would be more appropriate than an implant.
Cost and Durability
Allen says implants are generally a bit more expensive than dental bridges, depending on what components are being used in the implant. “There are some varying factors, like what kind of abutment is used,” he says. “A dental implant does involve surgery, but it’s very easy.”
Implants also involve more healing time than dental bridges. Nonetheless, he is a proponent of both procedures. “A well-placed implant could last a lifetime,” he says. “It just depends, all techniques do require home care like good oral hygiene, flossing, maintenance and keeping an eye on them.”