If you count yourself among the 178 million Americans who are missing at least one tooth, or the 40 million who don’t have any at all, you’re all too familiar with how missing teeth can wreak havoc on your self-confidence, as well as make it nearly impossible to enjoy many of your favorite foods.
Replacing your missing teeth may seem like a no-brainer. The rub is knowing what treatment option is right for you. Here, our own Dr. Meriem Boukadoum at 54th Street Dental has two popular options for you: bridges and dental implants.
Choosing between dental bridges and dental implants
Before we can discuss the viability of going with dental implants or bridges, let’s review the similarities and differences between these two common tooth replacement options.
Bridges and dental implants are both initiated after Dr. Boukadoum performs a thorough examination and X-rays, if needed, and discusses recommendations with you based on this data.
Both treatment options may be performed using nitrous oxide or oral sedation to keep you comfortable during the procedure. But that’s where the similarities end.
A bridge, also known as a dental bridge, is a common go-to for patients who are missing one or more teeth. A bridge closes the gap between missing teeth using an artificial tooth or teeth, depending on how many teeth you need to replace.
The artificial teeth are suspended between two healthy teeth, which act as anchors to the bridge.
Here at 54th Street Dental, Dr. Boukadoum installs dental bridges in two appointments. At your first appointment, she prepares the healthy anchor teeth by thinning out the enamel slightly so the bridge fits properly.
Next, your dentist makes an oral impression of your mouth and teeth and does some color matching. Dr. Boukadoum sends all of this data to a dental lab, which creates your bridge. When the bridge comes back from the lab, you return for your second appointment so she can bond the bridge into place.
Dental implants have become the gold standard for replacing several teeth, or an entire mouth of teeth. Dental implants essentially mimic natural tooth roots by replacing each missing tooth with a titanium post that is surgically placed in the jawbone.
The dental implant treatment process is more complex and takes much longer than getting a bridge. In fact, dental implant procedures occur over 6-12 months.
Before you’re able to get started, Dr. Boukadoum needs to make sure have enough bone density to support dental implants. If so, she begins the process during an in-office surgical procedure where she places a post in every spot where a tooth is missing.
Dr. Boukadoum then sends you home with post-op recovery instructions, and your body’s natural healing ability swings into action. Specifically, over the next 3-4 months, the posts heal in place and fuse to your jawbone, which is a process called osseointegration.
Once the posts are properly fused to your jawbone, you return to the office, where Dr. Boukadoum makes an impression of your teeth and mouth. She sends this data with color matching information to a dental laboratory, which fabricates your custom crowns.
When the crowns return from the lab, Dr. Boukadoum installs a crown on top of every implant to create an artificial tooth.
Bridges for less noticeable locations
Bridges work well for the patient who has missing teeth in less noticeable places, like in the back area of their mouth. Coupled with a less expensive treatment fee and a shorter treatment timeline, bridges may be the perfect option if you don’t want to wait close to a year to replace your missing teeth.
Dental implants for a more natural look, less bone loss
Dental implants may take longer, but their natural look can’t be beat. Also on the plus side, dental implants essentially duplicate the function and form of natural teeth, and their root system may prevent bone loss and help your jaw retain its natural shape. Bridges close a gap by suspending unrooted artificial teeth.
If you’re missing teeth and want to know if bridges or dental implants are right for you,
contact 54th Street Dental by requesting an appointment online or calling our office in the Midtown West neighborhood of New York City at 212-333-3200.