For most dental patients, losing a tooth prematurely can be a major event. Unfortunately, it can become costly to replace a missing tooth – which is why good oral hygiene is absolutely essential. But there is a silver lining. And the silver lining is this: replacing missing teeth has gotten better and better over the last 25 years, and today’s options can replace a missing tooth to the extent that friends, family, and passersby will have no idea that one of your teeth is “fake”.
Typically when you lose a tooth there are two main options. The dental bridge (and its many variations) and a dental implant. Of course, this doesn’t account for a full denture – which is generally only used when you’re replacing many teeth that have been long-affected by poor oral hygiene or injury.
Today, we’ll cover the dental implant. In many contexts, a dental implant is often preferable to a dental bridge, and it comes down to a couple key reasons.
The First Reason: A Dental Implant is Non-Destructive
Here’s how a dental implant works. To put it simply, your dentist implants a small titanium post into your gum and jaw. While it takes longer (and multiple visits to your dentist) before this is fully complete, the dental implant doesn’t rely on your other teeth for support – which is the case with a dental bridge. In fact, the titanium post your dentist installs is biocompatible with your jaw, meaning it will gradually fuze with your jaw – ultimately replacing your tooth’s roots.
On the other hand, a dental bridge relies on the adjacent teeth – which must be filed down and crowned. Generally, damaging two teeth to replace one is something your doctor will choose to avoid unless absolutely necessary. If the teeth on either side of the gap are already damaged, or if blood flow to your jaw isn’t sufficient for the implant’s biocompatibility (especially for smokers, or patients with diabetes), a bridge might be your doctor’s recommendation.
The Second Reason: A Dental Implant Will Last Longer
According to the New York Times, the average cost of a dental implant (for a single tooth) is between $3,500 and $4,000. This is generally a third more than a dental bridge. However, a dental bridge will last about 10 years, while your dental implant could very likely last forever. This makes the initial cost of the dental implant a potentially better investment.