Implants or Fixed Bridge? What Is Your Best Option?

Missing teeth? Let’s restore your smile. The two primary options for treating missing teeth are implants and dental bridges. Which option is best for you? Keep reading to learn about your options for tooth replacement. At Hill Country Oral Surgery, we can restore your smile and your confidence.

We’re here to offer personalized advice. Call us to schedule a consultation at our Austin, TX oral surgery practice.

What is a Fixed Bridge?

A dental bridge replaces a missing tooth, or series of missing teeth. It bridges the gap between missing teeth and healthy teeth, using the surrounding teeth as a support. A bridge is made up of two outer crowns that cover the supportive teeth, also called abutment teeth, and one or more false teeth in between. Once in place, a dental bridge functions much like natural teeth, allowing patients to chew and smile with confidence.

Although bridges generally use your natural teeth for support, they can also be used in conjunction with dental implants. Our All-On-4 full arch dental rehabilitation system combines implants with dental bridges to restore both function and beauty to a full arch of missing teeth.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are another replacement option for missing teeth. They consist of a titanium screw, an abutment, and a crown (the part of the implant that looks like a tooth). Implants are implanted into the jaw. Once you’re fully healed, they function much like a natural tooth. Like a bridge, implants also maintain the bone and jaw structure by providing the necessary force to keep the jawbone healthy.  We often perform extractions before placing a dental implant to remove severely damaged or decaying teeth.

Dental implants can replace a single tooth or an entire smile, depending on your needs. Patients with dental implants can eat and chew normally. Implants are also cared for in the same manner as natural teeth. You’ll brush, floss, and visit the dentist for cleanings.

Implants can last for a lifetime if they are properly placed and cared for. They are comfortable, stable, and have no loose parts.

Dental Implants vs. Fixed Bridge: Which Option Is Best for Me?

If you want to restore your smile, start your journey with a consultation at our Austin, TX oral surgery practice. Our trained oral surgeons will help you explore your options to determine if dental implants or a bridge is the best fit to replace your missing teeth.

Each option has benefits. Understanding the unique positive benefits of each treatment can help you choose the right tooth restoration option for you.

The benefits of dental implants include:

  • As easy to clean as a natural tooth
  • Longer lasting than a bridge, often offering lifelong tooth replacement
  • Does not require healthy surrounding teeth for effective replacement

The benefits of a dental bridge include:

  • Lower initial cost
  • Can replace multiple missing teeth
  • No need for gum grafting if bone recession has occurred

Come in for an examination and we’ll talk about your best options for tooth replacement. Call us at 512-327-7233 to schedule an appointment.

 


Dental Implant or Bridge- Which Is Best for You?

Missing teeth? Should you get a dental implant or bridge? We’ll compare these two popular tooth restoration choices so you can choose the best replacement option for your situation. Contact our offices to schedule a personalized consultation and to get expert advice from our oral surgeons. We love helping people to get their smile and dental health back on track.

What Is a Dental Implant?

Dental implants are much like a natural tooth. A titanium screw is placed into the tooth position, supporting a crown. After the screw is placed, the bone will grow around it, anchoring the screw into the jaw and providing long lasting support for the replacement tooth. Dental implants are specially designed to not be rejected by the body and, with proper care, can provide lifelong tooth replacement. Since the titanium screw is placed into the jaw, in most situations, the only visible part of the implant is the crown, which is formed to perfectly match the surrounding natural teeth. Oral surgeons with implant experience are the best choice for dental implants.

What Is a Dental Bridge?

Dental bridges are used to hide the gap caused by missing teeth. The natural teeth surrounding the gap are used to support the replacement crowns, which float between the supporting outer teeth. Placing a bridge does not require surgery and can often be performed by a regular dentist. Unlike implants, bridges aren’t always natural looking and can be a temporary solution to missing teeth.

Implant vs. Bridge

Dental implants and bridges are both used regularly to replace missing teeth. Here’s a quick look at some of the differences between these two options.

  • Cost– Generally, a bridge is less expensive than dental implants. Costs vary widely depending on the type of bridge or implant used, the number of teeth that need replacement, the amount of time since the tooth was removed, etc.
  • Longevity– Implants can last for a lifetime with proper care. A dental bridge can be difficult to clean resulting in a shorter lifespan, and generally more problems.
  • Surgical/Non-Surgical- Placing implants is a surgical procedure. Provided you have healthy surrounding teeth, a bridge can be placed without surgery.
  • Damage to Surrounding Teeth- To fit a bridge, the supporting outer teeth will need to be modified significantly. Implants are self-supporting and do not impact the surrounding teeth.
  • Dental Health– Since an implant is placed into the bone, much like a natural tooth, it preserves the underlying bone and jaw structure with little to no gum and bone loss. With a bridge, bone and gum loss do occur.
  • Care– Care for implants just like natural teeth by brushing flossing, and visiting the dentist every 6 months. Bridges require some different care, including specialized floss and brushes.
  • Appearance– Implants look like natural teeth. They provide superior results to bridges in terms of appearance.
  • Special Considerations– Implants require healthy bone for placement. If the tooth has been missing for an extended period of time, bone or gum grafting may be needed before an implant can be placed due to natural deterioration that occurs without a tooth in place.
  • Timeline– Bridges can be made and placed in a couple of weeks, start to finish. Getting implants is typically a longer process. Bone grafting, gum grafting, and other needed procedures can extend the amount of time required for full replacement.

Both implants and bridges have unique pros and cons. We’ll work with you and your dentist to choose the best tooth replacement option for you. In general, implants provide better results, but they are more expensive and require surgery to place. Since implants function much like regular teeth, they are the best option for truly getting your teeth and smile back.

All-On-4

For patient that need extensive oral restoration, we offer a procedure that offers full arch tooth replacement with only four dental implants. We call this procedure All-On-4 or Full Arch Dental Rehabilitation. Four or more implants are carefully placed in the jaw and are used to support a full arch of replacement teeth. By using fewer implants, we can offer full arch restoration at a much lower price. Many patients will come in for the procedure in the morning and will leave with replacement teeth in place. This option is best for patients that need all or many of the teeth in the jaw replaced.

What Is the Best Tooth Replacement Option for Me?

Choosing between tooth replacement options can be difficult. We recommend working closely with your dentist or oral surgeon to explore the pros and cons of dental implants, dental bridges, and full arch restoration. Call us today to schedule your consultation at Hill Country Oral Surgery.


Our Guide to Taking Proper Care of Your Dental Implants

Get your smile back with dental implants. Once you have implants, help your new smile to last by taking proper care of your implants and your oral health. Here’s what you need to know about caring for dental implants. We’ll give you more specific care instructions as we meet together, preparing for your implant placement surgery. Please get in touch if you have any questions or concerns.

Implant Care- Very Similar to Caring for Natural Teeth

Brush, floss, rinse, repeat. Caring for dental implants is very similar to caring for natural teeth. Even better, replacement teeth can’t get cavities, although they will wear over time. With proper care, your implants have the potential to last for a lifetime. Here are some details on the basic care your implants will need.

  • Brush– Regular brushing is an important part of caring for your teeth. You can use a manual, sonic, or electric toothbrush, unless your dentist has a specific recommendation for you. Brush your teeth twice a day, at a minimum, to remove plaque and bacteria from the mouth. If you have tight or hard to reach spaces because of your implants, you may need to use specialized brushes like an interproximal brush to clean these areas.
  • Floss– Floss your teeth and implants at least once a day to remove plaque from areas that can’t be reached with a toothbrush. You may need to use a floss threader to get floss around implants, under bridges, and through bars to properly clean the teeth. Your dentist will help you learn how to properly floss around an implant. Many people are poor flossers, but with implants especially, it is important to step up your game and get in the flossing habit. Avoiding infection and keeping your mouth clean is important for the longevity of your implants and for your overall dental health.
  • Visit the Dentist– Regular dental cleanings will keep your smile in tip-top shape. Even with regular brushing and flossing, plaque and tartar can build up in hidden, hard to clean areas. Regular cleanings will remove this build-up, before it becomes a serious problem. Regular dental visits also check for problems with the implants, ensuring they remain strong and healthy. Your dentist will help keep your body healthy by looking for oral cancers and swollen lymph nodes. Most patients will see their dentist every six months with dental implants, but some may require more frequent visits.
  • Specialized Tools– Your dentist may recommend some specialized tools to make caring for implants more successful. Some patients use water flossers, antimicrobial oral rinses, gum stimulators, and other tools to maintain oral health. Talk with your dentist for specific recommendations about tools that may be helpful to you.

If you want your implants to last, regular care is essential. These steps may sound basic, but they are the key to good dental health, with or without implants.

Right After Implants- Care for Your Implants During Recovery

Once your implants are established and healed, you’ll care for them similarly to natural teeth. However, right after placement, they will require special care during the recovery process. Here’s how to care for your implants during recovery.

  • Stay on Top of Pain Control– Most patients find that implant placement is less painful than tooth extractions. We recommend that you start using pain medications before the surgical anesthetic wears off.
  • Do Not Brush the Site for a Week- Avoid brushing the surgical site for a week after surgery.
  • Rinse with Peridex- You’ll need to rinse 2x daily with Peridex, a prescription oral rinse, in the morning and at night. Brush your teeth about 30 minutes after using Peridex as it can stain the teeth. For the first week, rinse with salt water after eating or drinking.
  • Do Not Play with Sutures– Your sutures should stay in place for 5-7 days and will fall out on their own. Do not play with the sutures or they may fall out too soon.
  • Do Not Chew on the Surgical Site for a Week- Maintain a soft diet for the first few days. Avoid chewing with the implants for at least a week. We recommend that you avoid hard foods like chips and nuts for a week after treatment as they can irritate the healing tissue around your implants.
  • Keep Up with Follow Up Care– We’ll see you again about 2-3 months after placement to ensure the bone is healing properly around the implant. In most cases, you’ll be able to see your dentist for a final restoration around this same time. If the implant is not exposed, you’ll need a small procedure to uncover it after 2-3 months.
  • Practice Good Dental Hygiene- Don’t wait to start good dental hygiene practices. You should resume regular brushing the day after placement, avoiding the site for about a week. Follow our recommendations for brushing, flossing, etc. as soon as possible. Dental problems can develop quickly if good hygiene isn’t practiced.

With proper care and maintenance, your dental implants can provide long lasting beauty and function to your smile. Call us today to schedule a dental implant consultation at Hill Country Oral Surgery.