1888 PressRelease – While the incidence of tooth decay has diminished significantly over the years due to the use of fluoride and increased patient awareness, teeth are still susceptible to decay, infection and breakage – and require restoration to return them to a normal shape, appearance and function. The most common restorative treatments for damaged or missing teeth remain bridges and implants.
By Maricela Murillo, DDS
While the incidence of tooth decay has diminished significantly over the years due to the use of fluoride and increased patient awareness, teeth are still susceptible to decay, infection and breakage – and require restoration to return them to a normal shape, appearance and function. The most common restorative treatments for damaged or missing teeth remain bridges and implants. But what’s the difference between the two options?
A dental bridge is a non-removable appliance used to replace missing teeth. Several types of bridges are available, depending on a patient’s particular case; however, the “traditional bridge” is the most popular. This type is usually made of porcelain fused to metal and consists of two crowns placed over two anchoring teeth (abutment teeth) attached to pontics (artificial teeth), filling the gap created by one or more missing teeth.
Getting a bridge usually requires two or more visits to the dentist. During the first visit, the two anchoring teeth are prepared by removing a portion of enamel to allow for a crown. Next, a highly accurate impression (mold) is made, which is sent to a dental laboratory where the bridge will be fabricated. In addition, a temporary bridge will be made and worn for several weeks until the patient’s next appointment. At the second visit, the permanent bridge will be checked, adjusted and cemented to achieve a proper fit.
Dental bridges are highly durable and will last many years. Proper brushing and flossing, along with regular dental visits, will prolong the life of a permanent bridge; however, it may need to be replaced or re-cemented due to normal wear.
Dental implants are another option for replacing missing teeth and are also a fixed solution to removable partial or complete dentures, providing excellent support and stability for these dental appliances. Implants are artificial roots and teeth (usually titanium) that are surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw bone by a dentist or periodontist – a specialist of the gums and supporting bone. The teeth attached to implants are very natural looking.
The process of getting implants requires a number of visits over several months. First, a dentist will take X-rays and impressions (molds) of the jaw and teeth to determine bone, gum tissue and spacing available for an implant. While the area is numb, the implant will be surgically placed into the bone and allowed to heal and integrate for up to six months.
Depending on the type of implant, a second surgery may be required to place the “post” that will hold the artificial tooth in place. With other implants, the post and anchor are already attached and placed at the same time. After several weeks of healing, the artificial teeth are made and fitted to the post portion of the anchor. Because several fittings may be required, this step may take one to two months to complete. After a healing period, the artificial teeth are securely attached to the implant, providing excellent stability and comfort.
Like bridges, dental implants are strong and durable and will last many years. On occasion, they will have to be re-tightened or replaced due to normal wear; however, good oral hygiene and eating habits will extend the life of an implant.
Bridges and implants are both excellent approaches to addressing damaged or missing teeth. Patients who are interested in restorative dentistry should talk to their dentist about their condition, available options and the best treatment for their particular situation. Together, they can choose a treatment plan that will close the gap – and result in a beautiful smile.
About Dr. Murillo, DDS
The state-of-the-art practice of Dr. Murillo, DDS, is based in San Diego and offers general, restorative and cosmetic dental services to help the whole family achieve and maintain long-term dental health and a beautiful smile. Among the comprehensive list of services Dr. Murillo offers are bonding, veneers, gum treatment, orthodontics, crowns and bridges, as well as sleep apnea and TMJ services. Dr. Murillo and her team use the most modern technology to deliver the highest quality dental care, including digital X-rays; laser technology for whitening and periodontal procedures; all-ceramic, metal-free crowns; and white fillings. For more information, visit http://www.mmdentalcare.com/ or call 619.582.5380.