When adult teeth have gone missing, the aesthetic effects can be dramatic. However, as much as patients tend to focus on the cosmetic consequences of tooth loss, the effects on oral health and function can be even worse. When a single tooth or a small group of teeth has been lost, a dental bridge is the most effective restorative treatment option. Dental bridges fill in the gaps of missing teeth to restore oral function, while improving the appearance of the smile. With a dental bridge in place, the structure of the mouth is also preserved and patients can feel confident that surrounding teeth will not shift or cave in. There are two ways in which a dental bridge can be supported, with dental crowns or dental implants. Dr. Philip Gallegos explains to his Albuquerque patients crown vs. implant-supported dental bridges and helps them determine which is right for them.
Crown Supported Dental Bridges
The traditional treatment process for a dental bridge utilizes the support of two dental crowns, one on either side of the treatment area. In this process, the two teeth directly surrounding the area of tooth loss are treated with a dental crown. A dental pontic (the piece of the dental bridge that resembles the tooth/teeth) is secured to these two dental crowns. There are pros and cons that should be considered regarding a crown-supported dental bridge.
Pros: The major benefits of a crown-supported dental bridge are the length and cost of treatment. A crown-supported dental bridge can typically be placed in just two dental appointments. This minimally invasive procedure is not only fast, but also a more affordable treatment option than implant-supported dental bridges.
Cons: The drawback to a crown supported dental bridge is that it does not stimulate the jaw bone. Although the dental bridge will uphold the structure of the mouth, without stimulation from the roots of the missing teeth, bone density will be lost over time.
Implant-supported Dental Bridges
With implant-supported dental bridges, the dental restoration is secured by a series of dental implants, rather than dental crowns. The dental implants are tiny screws that are surgically implanted into the jaw bone, offering the ultimate degree of stability. This requires a series of surgical treatments, but will result in a strong and durable anchor for the dental bridge. As with crown-supported dental bridges, implant-supported bridges have both pros and cons.
Pros: Dental implants are the closest thing to the natural teeth. The greatest benefit of dental implants is that they replace not only the teeth, but also the roots of the teeth. As such, they continue to promote the growth of healthy jaw bone tissue. Dental implants also offer the most secure fit and can last for a patient’s lifetime (although the dental bridge itself will eventually require replacement).
Cons: The disadvantage of implant-supported dental bridges is that it is a lengthy treatment that requires several procedures. It can take up to 12 months to complete treatment. Because of the multiple visits required and the fact that this is an oral surgery procedure, implant-supported dental bridges are also more costly than crown-supported bridges.
Which Is Right for Me?
The choice between implant-supported dental bridges and one supported by dental crowns in largely personal. Both offer a restoration of strength and function, so it will come down to whether a patient is more concerned with a timely, affordable treatment, or one that offers superior stability and durability. Dr. Gallegos will help patients weigh the pros and cons of both options to determine which is right for them.
Schedule an Appointment
Lost teeth can ruin your smile and your oral health. To avoid these consequences, it is important to address tooth loss right away. To learn how Dr. Philip M. Gallegos and his dental staff can rebuild your smile and your confidence, schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. We look forward to hearing from you!