A lot has changed over the years. Phones are now in our pockets. Computers are in our cars. And we can see and talk to our children and even grandchildren, even if they live thousands of miles away. While not every change has been good — it seems everyone brings home work with them each day — there have been a lot of improvements over the years.
The same is true for dentistry. New technologies, better research, and fresh data have made some big changes in dental care. For example, dentists used to use mercury in their metal amalgam fillings, but now we can use a safer, tooth-colored material to repair cavities. Professional-strength teeth whitening used to be expensive and available only to Hollywood actors and rich politicians, but now you can get affordable take-home trays from our Bridgeport/Trumbull and Shelton dental offices. And instead of just dealing with the loss of a tooth, you can get a custom-made replacement tooth put in that gap.
But What Kind Of Replacement Tooth?
You can’t just slide an artificial tooth in the space and hope it stays there. Such a replacement needs something to hold it securely in place. Without it, you’d probably swallow the replacement tooth during your first meal without even realizing it. There are two ways we can keep your replacement tooth where it belongs: a dental bridge or a dental implant.
Dental bridges are similar to their namesake. Just how a bridge connects two pieces of land separated by a gap, a dental bridge connects two teeth separated by the space left behind by that lost tooth. The replacement tooth is made to fit exactly like any healthy tooth would in that spot, but it is held in place by a pair of dental crowns. These tooth-shaped covers are attached to the teeth on either side of the gap, and the replacement tooth is attached to them.
Dental implants also use an artificial tooth custom-made to fit that space. But instead of using dental crowns to hold it in place, our dentists surgically implant a titanium root underneath that gap. An abutment is attached to the part of the artificial root that pokes just above the gumline, and the replacement tooth is attached to that.
Why Dental Implants Are Better
At both our Bridgeport/Trumbull and Shelton dental offices, we offer both dental bridges and dental implants. But for most patients, getting an implant is the better choice, and there are five reasons why that’s the case.
- Easy to care for: Since a dental bridge isn’t attached to anything at the bottom of the replacement tooth, food particles can slide in underneath the tooth and get trapped there, right along the gums and neighboring teeth. Unless you want gum disease or cavities, you’ll have to be careful about cleaning that space every time you brush and floss. But since dental implants are rooted in your bone like your natural teeth, you don’t have to do any special kind of cleaning. Just brush and floss like normal.
- Healthier jawbone: Even your primary teeth had roots that extended through the gums and into your jawbone, and your adult teeth are no exception. In fact, your jawbone is so used to having roots in the sockets that not having roots there leads to bone deterioration. But the titanium root used with dental implants not only fits that socket, it fuses with your jawbone over time just like your healthy, natural roots. Dental implants not only replace your missing tooth, but they also prevent bone deterioration just by being there.
- Leaves nearby teeth alone: Since a dental bridge holds the replacement tooth in the gap using dental crowns, the teeth on either side of the gap must be prepared for the crowns. That means removing a small amount of the tooth so the crown will sit flush with the other teeth and look normal. Not so with a dental implant. The implant does require oral surgery to place the titanium root, but the rest of your teeth are not affected by it.
- More natural looking: Both dental bridges and dental implants use replacement teeth carefully made to look and feel natural in your mouth. But bridges have connections to their neighboring teeth through crowns, something none of your natural teeth have. Dental implants are held by a root just like your natural teeth, so they will look more natural in your smile.
- Lasts longer: This is perhaps the biggest reason. Dental bridges can last a while, but chances are you’ll need them replaced at some point. The crowns that hold the replacement are repeatedly put under pressure when you bite and chew. But because dental implants are connected to your jawbone, the biting pressure is transferred there just like with your healthy teeth. This helps the dental implant last much longer.