01/13/2013  |  
Dental Implants or Bridgework – Making The Best Choice

When you need to replace a missing tooth, there are two general alternatives to consider: You can choose traditional bridgework, or select the newer option of dental implants. Both offer a solution that's reliable, functional, and esthetically pleasing. However, there are a few important differences between the two systems.

A fixed bridge is a dental restoration that's held in place by attachment to the adjacent natural teeth, which are referred to as abutments. The tooth-replacement section — called a “pontic” (after the French word for bridge) — spans the gap. Pontics require attachment to the abutments by either a metal frame, or today, a space age porcelain, to bridge the space from abutment to abutment. The system works well, but there's a catch: Even a single-tooth replacement requires a three-unit bridge — and healthy adjacent teeth must be “prepared” by removing their enamel, which increases the risk for root canals.

By contrast, a dental implant can be a single-tooth replacement system, with no effect on healthy adjacent teeth. It involves placing a titanium metal implant directly into the living bone of the jaw, in a minor surgical procedure. After a short time, the bone and the implant fuse, and a crown restoration is placed on top to complete the prosthetic tooth system. Dental implants don't decay, and they're less likely to lead to gum disease than a natural tooth bridge. They also last longer, potentially offering far greater value. Want to know more? Learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants vs. Bridgework.”

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