If you have multiple missing teeth, your dentist may give you the choice of dental implants or a bridge. When it comes to the wellbeing of your mouth, you’ll want to make an informed decision. Let’s compare a dental bridge vs implant to help you decide which is best for you.
What is a bridge?
Missing teeth equals a gap where those teeth used to be. A bridge “bridges” that gap, using the adjacent healthy teeth (or dental implants if no natural teeth are present) as anchors. Your dentist will file down the anchoring teeth and install crowns (hollow, artificial teeth) over them. The dentist will take impressions of your teeth and make a model for the custom-made, one-piece bridge with artificial teeth and crowns.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a small cylinder-shaped metal post that replaces the root of the tooth. A replacement tooth (or crown) is then fitted to the new “root” via a small attachment.
Benefits of restoring your smile
Both dental bridges and implants increase your quality of life. They can:
Help you to speak and chew more efficiently
Give you back a complete smile
Align your bite
Prevent natural teeth from drifting
Disadvantages of a bridge
The teeth on either side of the gap in your mouth must be recontoured to act as anchors for the bridge. Your dentist will shave down the healthy enamel on these teeth to prepare them to hold crowns.
“The reality is that most people when they are missing multiple teeth are moving to a denture or some sort of removable teeth they are taking from their mouth,” says Collingwood Dental Centre’s Dr. Zain Saigar. “This creates a disability for the patient because it ends up ruining other teeth. You don’t want to drill a natural virgin tooth.”
Studies show that bridges tend to fail within 10 to 15 years. “Bridges at the 15-year mark fail 50 percent of the time,” says Dr. Saigar. “And they fail mostly because you get a cavity around the tooth that’s holding the bridge on.” This happens when bacteria and debris build up on the gums and teeth surrounding the bridge.
If a previously healthy anchoring tooth ends up having to be removed, you now have an even bigger problem. “There are people who have bridges last longer,” points out Dr. Saigar. “Those are people who are committed to dental hygiene and don’t have any diseases that affect the immune system, like diabetes.”
Advantages of an implant
In contrast, dental implants don’t require any changes to the nearby teeth. Implants also help to preserve the density of bones under the teeth by stimulating them so they don’t shrink. Chewing on false teeth with no accompanying root structure doesn’t stimulate bone.
Read more about dental implants and why we recommend them for many patients.
While dental implants are successful 90 per cent of the time or more, there are scenarios that create risk for failure. Read about dental implant failure to find out if you are at risk.
Whether you opt for a dental bridge, implant or a combination of the two, you’ll need to brush and floss every day. Your dentist can teach you how to floss properly around artificial teeth. Professional cleanings and dental check-ups are important.
Still undecided? Feel free to call us with any questions you have about dental bridges or implants.
Fortunately dental implant failure occurs 10 per cent of the time or less. As long as a patient has reached the age of 18, there are few limitations as to who can get dental implants. But some candidates for dental implants have more risks for failure (loss of implants) than others.
In a previous blog post, we talked about dental implants and why they’re often the best solution to replace missing teeth. If you decide to invest in dental implants, you’re also invested in their success. Make sure that your money and time are rewarded with a happy mouth for years to come.
Just as smoking is harmful to your body in general, it can also cause risks for dental implant recipients. “Patients that are smokers have a higher risk of failure,” notes Collingwood Dental Centre’s Dr. Zain Saigar. “Some are successful but the carcinogens in cigarettes tend to delay the bone from healing and then the implant doesn’t integrate.”
Once the dental implant is inserted, it relies on the patient’s bone to grow around it and secure it in place. In addition to smokers, those taking medicine for osteoporosis may have an increased risk for dental implant failure. While the medicine makes bones stronger, it interferes with the process of preparing the bone for the dental implant. “It doesn’t mean that you can’t do it,” says Dr. Saigar. “You just have an increased risk of short-term failure.”
Others at higher risk of short-term failure are those receiving cancer treatment in the mouth and insulin-dependent diabetics.
“Long-term failure is the person with a really strong bite, that’s a grinder or a clencher,” notes Dr. Saigar. Each tooth has little shock absorbers around it. If you bite down really hard the tooth moves around. There’s no natural shock absorber in an implant, so this harsh treatment of the teeth may weaken the underlying bone and cause implants to loosen.
Reduce your risk of dental implant failure
Dental care is important whether you have natural teeth or not. “You can get implant failure from someone not taking care of their oral hygiene,” notes Dr. Saigar. “You can’t have a cavity on the tooth but you can still get gum and bone disease around the implant.”
“Some patients get the implant and they’re gone,” continues Dr. Saigar. Without proper care of the mouth, the implants can get infections around them. The patient then loses bone and the implant loosens.
“Once a year, have your implants cleaned, have the gums around them cleaned, have x-rays,” advises Dr. Saigar. If you have dentures, the dentist will take the dentures out, clean around the implants and put the dentures back in place.
While dental implant failure is a possibility, patients should work with their dentist to ensure the best possible outcome. Contact the team at Collingwood Dental Centre to discuss your options and any possible risks associated with dental implants.
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If you’ve lost an adult tooth, you know it’s a problem that’s hard to ignore. Missing teeth can affect your appearance, self-esteem, comfort and ability to chew food effectively. Over time, the consequences of missing teeth only become more serious.
Dental implants are the best solution for many people. A dental implant is essentially an artificial replacement for the root part of the tooth. Implants can be mini or full-size. They take the form of small, metal, cylinder-shaped posts.
How dental implants work
“The implant is inserted and allowed time to fuse with your bone,” explains Collingwood Dental Centre’s Dr. Zain Saigar. “Once this has happened, a replacement tooth/crown can be fitted to it via a small attachment.” The end result looks just like a real tooth, allowing you to brush and chew normally.
“Doing a dental implant is usually the most predictable option when replacing missing teeth,” says Dr. Saigar. “Previously we would have had to involve the neighbouring teeth by shaving them down. Dental implants are preservative of the nearby teeth.”
Dental implants do more than just fill in a space in your teeth. It’s important to note that dental implants help support the teeth surrounding them as well. This is because bones need stimulation to maintain their density and form – and implants help to preserve the bones under the teeth. In the mouth, it’s your teeth that provide the underlying bones with the necessary stimulation. “When you lose a tooth the bone around it starts to shrink because your body is not going to keep bone there with no function,” says Dr. Saigar. “When you do an implant that bone stays there. If you are chewing on it, the bone is stimulated and it’s going to have a function. Chewing on dentures doesn’t stimulate bone.”
Missing teeth cause more problems
There are other consequences of a gap in your smile. If you have a single missing tooth, the neighbouring teeth tend to drift into that space, changing your bite. “Plus the opposing tooth starts growing a bit,” says Dr. Saigar. “Then it changes your bite and the part of the tooth – the root – hidden under the gum of that opposing tooth gets exposed.” This can mean root sensitivity when that tooth is exposed to cold liquids and foods.
“The white part of teeth – the enamel – is a very protective layer. It protects from acids in foods,” says Dr. Saigar. “The root doesn’t have that. You are now exposing it to things you’re not supposed to.”
When should I replace a missing tooth?
Maybe you’re young and healthy and figure you can take care of that missing tooth later. “Fifteen years down the road you’re going to have problems,” cautions Dr. Saigar. “Bone is gone, the opposing tooth has moved in and needs to be shaved. It complicates things dramatically. Ideally you want to replace that tooth in the first year. It’s not impossible to do it later. It just means there are added procedures involved.” Some patients ultimately require a bone graft from chin, hip or jaw to replace bone in the mouth.
How many implants do I need?
You might be surprised to learn that it can take more than one implant to replace a single tooth. “Sometimes a person has lost one molar tooth, but when you show them the anatomy of the molar tooth, it has three roots,” points out Dr. Saigar. “You’ll probably need at least two implants to cover a molar tooth.” The rule of thumb is one implant per six to seven millimetres of space. If you have lost most or all of your teeth, your dentist may recommend six implants on top and six on the bottom, enough to provide a foundation for dentures.
If you’re missing teeth and would like more information, let us know by visiting our dental implants page and filling out the form.
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On Saturday, November 5, 2016 our dental team at Collingwood Dental Centre had the privilege of being able to give back to the community, by providing a day of free dentistry for the people of Collingwood region.
This free dental clinic was the first of its kind in Collingwood!
Approximately 30 people received treatment. These individuals would otherwise be unable to afford the dental treatment they needed to relieve pain, repair broken teeth or improve their smile.
There is a need in the community more than anyone could have imagined. These are our neighbours, friends, and families that have to put their health needs second to basic necessities.
“The reward of seeing a person leave our office with less pain or a new smile to help them face the world with a little more courage cannot be shared in words.”
This free clinic was such a success Collingwood Dental Centre is going to run it annually in the fall.
Thank you to, 211 who coordinated the patient intake, organized transportation and sponsorship for supplies, Henry Schien Canada and Loblaws for their support as well. We could not have offered this clinic without these sponsors or the wonderful individuals who donated their time and skills.
The big day was even featured in the local news! (see link)