Many of us remember a time when you didn’t have a choice between a dental implant or a dental tooth bridge. This was because dental implants cost too much or weren’t done at all. This would also include a time when dental implants weren’t even an option because dental technology hadn’t progressed enough to be able to replace teeth yet. Though our history books talk about the wooden teeth our ancestors used, they were more as dentures, and not surgically fused into your gums.
During the time before implants became so affordable, dentists would recommend grinding down the surrounding teeth to create a dental tooth bridge. Instead of having one tooth missing, you now had one tooth missing and two teeth with altered integrity.
Not the ideal situation for a healthy mouth and smile, but what choice did we have? There wasn’t much of a choice if you wanted a full smile so your dental problems didn’t stand out as an issue every time you smiled.
Nowadays, with the decreasing costs of a dental implant, it is more feasible for us to consider that method instead of the traditional. With a dental implant, there is less damage to the surrounding teeth. It does require the extraction of the damaged tooth, but if the tooth has had a failed root canal or been broken with little left by which to attach a crown normally, the extraction may actually be a welcome relief to pain you’ve probably been experiencing.
A dental implant is placed through three steps and requires the coordination of care between an oral surgeon and your dentist. An oral surgeon places a titanium post into the bone of your jaw as the artificial root for your implant. He will usually also place the abutment, which is needed to give the crown something to attach to. Some oral surgeons can do these two steps at the same time, while others require separate visits and time to heal between them.
While the healing process is important, sometimes pushing into the gum that has grown over the post can be painful as well. It may be worth doing a little research into whether or not your oral surgeon prefers to do the two steps together or separately. Saving some time off from work and additional pain may be just the motivation you need to have both done together.
A prosthodontist will create the crown for your dentist to attach to the abutment. This is the same kind of crown you would have placed over the anchor teeth if you were to have a dental tooth bridge done. You and your dentist will choose an appropriate color to make sure the crown matches the teeth surrounding the implant. The crown is then screwed onto the abutment and you’re done!
There are risks to getting a dental implant done that may be significant enough for you to choose the dental tooth bridge, though. It is important to weigh all the risks with the benefits before making this decision, as both are permanent. You could suffer from an infection in the site, which could affect the surrounding teeth or blood vessels. You also have a chance of suffering from nerve damage. If you have the implant done in the upper part of your mouth, you do run the risk of sinus problems. Your oral surgeon will look at the elevation of your sinus and may suggest a sinus lift while placing the post. Finally, the titanium post may not fuse to the bone.
Consider all your options before choosing between the two. You want to be happy with your smile.