Dental implants are an excellent solution to missing teeth, restoring both the look and function of your smile. Just like a natural tooth, they consist of a titanium ‘root’ to keep your implant strong and secure, and a crown that’s handcrafted from ceramic or porcelain to look just like the real thing.
Dental bridges, another popular alternative to missing teeth, usually need replacing every 10 to 15 years. This means you could easily be looking at several revisions during your lifetime. Dental implants, however, are designed to last. Look after your implant carefully and it may never need replacing.
The cost of repeat dental bridges unsurprisingly adds up, so while an implant may seem like the more expensive option, it could work out to be better value in the long run. There’s also the convenience of not needing to visit your dentist each time your bridge needs replacing, or worst-case scenario, becomes detached.
Dental implants can look incredibly natural and should be indistinguishable from your own teeth. Before your implant’s crown (the tooth portion of the implant) is made, we’ll take detailed impressions of your teeth and jaws to make sure it’s a perfect fit. You’ll be able to check your implant before it’s fitted, to make sure you’re completely happy with the colour and shape.
Dental implants don’t just look the part, they also function just like real teeth. Thanks to their titanium root, which over time securely integrates with your own bone, you can carry on enjoying your favourite foods no matter how tough or chewy.
Dental bridges are secured to the two teeth either side of your gap using crowns. This means that we need to reshape these teeth for a good fit, removing a proportion of the tooth’s surface. The downside of this is that even if you decide to have an implant in the future, these two teeth will always need dental crowns, which will need replacing periodically.
Also, because you’re not replacing the missing root of the tooth, over time the bone in this area will break down, a process known as bone resorption. This can affect your profile if you have multiple missing teeth, and it can make fitting an implant in the future a more complex procedure, which may require a bone graft.
Dental implants, conversely, don’t damage the surrounding teeth in any way, and unlike bridges or dentures they will preserve your bone level.
Because dental bridges are cemented in place, there is the potential for them to be knocked off or become loose. Assuming the bridge itself isn’t damaged in the process, your dentist should be able to simply reattach it. Meanwhile, dentures rely on a precise fit and over time your teeth and soft tissues can change shape, causing your denture to loosen – affecting your ability to speak and eat confidently.
Looking after your teeth and seeing your dentist for regular check-ups will help to minimise the risk of your bridge or denture failing. They’ll be able to keep a close eye on things and hopefully pre-empt problems that could jeopardise the longevity of your prosthesis.
Unfortunately, not every eventuality is avoidable. And if you’re concerned about the risk of a bridge or denture failing, you may want to consider a dental implant. Because the implant bonds with your jaw bone it’s very secure. It should only become loose for the same reasons that a natural tooth might fall out, for example injury or severe tooth decay.
Implants, conveniently, aren’t susceptible to tooth decay, but it’s still very important to keep the surrounding area clean and attend regular review appointments with your dentist. The result should be a long-lasting tooth that’s the next best thing to one you grew yourself.