If you have lost a tooth, there are several reasons why you should have it replaced--but you may be wondering which tooth replacement option is right for you. The traditional choice is a crown and bridge, which uses the teeth surrounding a gap to support a replacement tooth. The more advanced option is a freestanding dental implant that replaces the missing tooth, root to crown.
Philadelphia dentist Len Tau provides both treatments and can help you decide which is right for you. Both are valid options, but there are several differences you should be aware of.
Bridge and Crown (Dental Bridge)
For a bridge and crown approach to tooth replacement, the two natural teeth surrounding the site of the missing tooth are treated with crowns, which support a replacement tooth (pontic). This one-piece construction is referred to as a dental bridge and it can replace a lost tooth for many years.
Some of the benefits to this restoration are that it stabilizes the teeth to preserve your alignment, looks natural, and gives you back your full range of dentition. Drawbacks of a dental bridge include the fact that it (1) does noting to prevent bone loss at the site where the tooth was lost, (2) may be harder to floss and keep the gum tissue clean beneath the bridge, and (3) is dependent on the continued good health of the crowned teeth. If either crowned tooth fails (due to decay) the whole bridge fails.
A dental implant is different from a dental bridge because it feels and acts more like a natural tooth. The implant base is surgically placed in the jaw bone to mimic a natural tooth root. Over a period of a few months, the implant bonds with the bone and can then be used to support a full crown.
Benefits of a dental implant for single tooth replacement include (1) better long-term jawbone health, (2) a more permanent tooth replacement, (3) and fewer changes to your oral hygiene routine.
Potential drawbacks to a dental implant are the cost and time commitment required of the treatment. Dental implants can take 3-6 months before your new tooth is ready to attach and cost a good bit more than a dental bridge. However, due to the fact that implants rarely need to be replaced, many people prefer this treatment.
Why You Should Replace a Missing Tooth
Regardless of which tooth replacement option you choose, it's vital to your continued oral health that you do replace the missing tooth. Losing one tooth makes you more likely to lose teeth in the future. When there is a gap in your arch of teeth, the nearby teeth will slowly drift into the open space. This can upset the alignment of your bite, and make teeth more likely to crack and have the enamel wear down in places where teeth meet. Teeth may become more prone to deep cracks and dental decay as a result and more teeth may be lost.
Restoring a missing tooth is easy and convenient at the Philadelphia Center for Dental Excellence. Call us at 215-515-0909 to make an appointment and Dr. Tau will explain your options. Whichever you choose, you can expect a well placed and long lasting tooth replacement.