If you recently lost a tooth, your dentist has probably presented you with two replacement options: a dental implant or a bridge. For many patients, an implant is a better option in the long run, but that's not always the case. You really need to consider all of the various pros and cons of both options before you make a decision. So what factors are worth considering? Take a look.
1. Your overall health
Do you have any ongoing health issues? If you suffer from a condition that impedes your healing process, such as diabetes or an auto-immune disorder, your dentist may not recommend that you have a dental implant placed. After all, having implants put into your jaw is a surgical process, and your body needs to heal from that process. If you don't heal well, the implant may never become fully fixed into your jaw, and you'll be at an increased risk for infection. A bridge may be a safer choice, since surgery is not required to place it.
2. Your dental health
The health of the teeth to either side of your missing tooth will also be taken into account. If these teeth are not overly healthy — for instance, if they have cavities or a lot of decay — you may not be a good candidate for a dental bridge. This is because a bridge needs to be supported by teeth on either side. If those teeth are not in good shape, putting a bridge between them may cause too much strain, leading to further dental issues down the road. In a case like this, assuming your are in otherwise good health, a dental implant may be the better choice since it won't put any pressure on neighboring teeth.
3. Your feelings on surgery
Also ask yourself how you really feel about undergoing dental surgery. Although the procedure is usually done under local anesthesia, meaning you will be awake throughout the treatment, it does cause some pain during recovery. You'll have to stick to soft foods for a couple of weeks after having the implants placed, and you may experience some swelling and bleeding. If you really value having a more permanent tooth replacement option, this pain may be worth it. On the other hand, if you hate the idea of surgery and taking time off, a bridge might be a better choice. Inserting a bridge just takes an hour or two, and you can go right back to eating your favorite foods afterwards.
4. Your budget
Both implants and bridges are sometimes considered cosmetic by insurance companies, meaning that you will have to pay for at least part of the cost out of pocket. Ask your dentist how much an implant and a bridge will cost so you can make a smart choice that fits within your budget. A bridge is usually significantly cheaper, so it may be the better choice if you have limited funds.
5. Which tooth is affected
Which tooth are you missing? If you are missing a back molar, getting a bridge is not such a big deal, since nobody will really see the tooth unless they purposefully look in your mouth. On the other hand, if you are missing a front tooth, you will likely want to have an implant. A dental implant will look a lot more like a natural tooth, so you won't feel self-conscious about people looking at it.
Both implants and bridges are viable tooth replacement options. Consider the options above, and talk to a dentist at a dental office like Town Center Family Dental to get a better idea of which one might be best for you.