Helping residents of the Indianapolis area understand the difference between dental implants and bridges

Americans love to have options. With some information and guidance, we make sensible decisions about health care. That's why the Dr. Matthew Church and his team at Washington Street Dentistry offer patients the choice of a dental bridge or a dental implant for a missing tooth.

Here are points to consider in determining which procedure is right for you.

What is a bridge?
A dental bridge is a framework that anchors an artificial tooth (called a pontic) to replace the missing one, held in place by crowns on surrounding teeth. This is a non-removable prosthetic that closes the gap to restore appearance and function. A bridge may replace up to three consecutive missing teeth. However, there are disadvantages:
  • Existing teeth must be reduced (ground down) to hold the crowns
  • Teeth adjoining the bridge are subjected to additional stress from chewing, so they are at higher risk for breakage and possible future root canal therapy
  • There may be a visible line at the margin where the crowns and pontic meet the gum line
  • A bridge requires extra attention during brushing and a special flossing technique to avoid cavities and gum disease
  • With good home care, a dental bridge can last a long time. However, bridges typically need to be replaced after about ten years
What is a dental implant?
An implant is a small cylinder of biocompatible titanium that is precisely placed into the jawbone where a tooth is missing. As the bone fuses to it, the implant replicates a tooth root. It becomes the foundation for a lovely porcelain crown. This is the most reliable method for restoring a single missing tooth, multiple teeth, or a whole arch. They look completely natural, and feel and function like teeth. The implant also provides important stimulation to keep bone strong. The only downside is that it usually takes several months for the bone to fuse with the implant, before the crown may be placed.

Who is a good candidate?
If you have reasonably healthy teeth, a crown and bridge unit is probably a viable option. Those who clench or grind at night could damage a bridge without wearing a night guard. You must be committed to extremely good oral hygiene to keep your gums and teeth healthy with a bridge.

Most patients in good general health are candidates for dental implants. If you've lost teeth due to advanced gum disease Dr. Church will determine if there is adequate bone for an implant, and may suggest a bone graft.

What about cost?
A bridge is typically more economical up front, but comparing comfort and long-term value, a dental implant is cost-effective. Insurance may not cover the cost of a dental implant, but we want you to make the right choice for your oral health and lifestyle. We will be happy to talk with you about other financing options.

Call Washington Street Dentistry today at 317-333-6788 to learn more about your choices in dental care excellence.

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