The most common alternative to dental implants for a single tooth, fixed bridges involve grinding away – in other words, intentionally damaging – healthy adjacent teeth that are used to attach and support the bridge. The tooth-supported bridge does not stimulate natural bone growth beneath it, so the bone may deteriorate over time. Bridges generally fail after 5-10 years because patient have difficulty flossing them, which makes the root surfaces below and around the bridgework highly susceptible to decay.
Although these don’t require grinding down adjacent teeth, they are not nearly as stable or comfortable as dental implants and can affect speech and eating. This type of restoration is less expensive but doesn’t look as natural or function as well as an implant-supported crowns. The bone underneath a removable partial denture may deteriorate over time, changing the appearance of your smile and face.
Also called Maryland Bridge, this is sometimes considered for replacing front teeth that don’t endure the biting and chewing demands of back teeth. It has wings on each side to attach to healthy, adjacent teeth but usually doesn’t involve preparing, or grinding down, other teeth. A resin-bonded bridge looks and functions better than a removable denture but isn’t as strong as fixed bridgework and typically doesn’t function or last nearly as long as dental implants.
This denture sits on top of the gums where the missing teeth were. It can be uncomfortable, affect your ability to experience the full taste of food, cause sore gums, and shift and click in your mouth when you speak, eat, smile, yawn or cough. While the initial costs are low, they only last an average of 7 to 15 years, and the replacement costs can be significant over the long term. They need to be removed regularly for cleaning, which can be a time-consuming hassle. Also, as with a partial denture, the natural bone underneath a complete denture may deteriorate over time, permanently changing the appearance of your smile and face.
Use this quick checklist to help you think about which option you prefer:
If you checked even one item on this list, dental implants may be just what you’re looking for.