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28 February 2017

Dental Implant or Bridge?

It is only in the last two decades that dental implants have become a popular method of replacing lost or damaged teeth or, indeed, as an alternative to wearing dentures. In fact, most private dentists in Manchester and the surrounding areas recommend implants to their patients. Due to their natural look and feel, dental implants are now commonplace and have steadily replaced dental bridges as the first choice for many patients looking for a long-lasting solution to tooth loss — but others are still slightly fearful of what the process entails. It is important to understand the differences between dental implants and dental bridges.

  • Implants. Probably most off-putting for patients is the fact that having dental implants fitted is a surgical procedure. Before any surgery is performed, a dental expert must assess if there is sufficient bone and enough bone density to support the new implant. For most healthy individuals this is not usually a problem — but in cases where the density is insufficient the underlying bone must be built up by means of bone grafting. This is called “augmentation” and it can take up to eight months before the actual implant can be fitted. The upside is that the procedure itself is pain-free, takes only a few hours to complete and recovery time can be as short as just a couple of days.
  • Bridges. A dental bridge is bound to the surrounding teeth for support rather than being rooted in the jaw bone and is a far quicker and easier procedure for any private dentist. However, difficulties can arise as the adjacent teeth have to be ground down to fit the shape of the “bridging tooth” they support. Because no surgery is required, and the cost of bridgework is significantly lower than implants, many private dentists in Manchester routinely offer this service to patients who want a quick and permanent solution but are wary of any surgical procedure.

Pros and Cons

As is the case with most things in life, there are pros and cons to be considered and this is also the case when choosing between implants or bridges. Probably the most decisive factors in choosing one method over the other are costs, longevity and ease of fitting.

  • Costs. No contest in this case as implants are significantly more expensive than bridges.
  • Longevity. This is where the extra cost of dental implants pays off as they can last up to five times as long as bridges.
  • Ease of Fitting. Dental bridges can be fitted without the need for surgery, or of checking bone density, while implants require preparation time to ensure they will bond with, and take root in, the jawbone.

Something else that needs to be taken into consideration is whether the patient is a smoker. Many private dentists will not even contemplate fitting dental implants if a patient is a smoker who cannot at least quit for the necessary recovery period which can last for up to nine months.

Final Decision

Whether to opt for implants or bridges is largely a matter of personal choice but it is always wise to consult your local private dentist before making a final decision. Of course, the cost involved and the choice between a surgical and non-surgical procedure are crucial factors but the cheapest and least stressful option need not necessarily be the best choice and professional guidance is needed to make the right choice in each individual case.

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