Female model for dental implants.

Tooth loss remains a common occurrence, even though the number of adults who have lost all of their teeth is less common than it used to be.

However, even with fewer adults losing teeth, the American College of Prosthodontics reports that over 36 million Americans have complete tooth loss, and 120 million are missing at least one permanent tooth.

OMSNashville Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery’s nine Tennessee locations offer several solutions to replace lost permanent teeth. Recently, dental implants have become the preferred choice for oral and maxillofacial surgeons and patients. 

Why are more patients choosing dental implants over dental bridges? Dental implants offer several new advantages as oral care techniques and technology progress.

What Are Dental Implants?

Patients missing one or more teeth can use dental implants to replace the root of a lost tooth. Dental implants are screws made from titanium that your surgeon implants into your jawbone. After the tissue around the implant heals, an abutment gets attached to the screw, holding the artificial tooth in place.

What Is a Dental Bridge?

If you lose a single tooth or multiple teeth in a row, a dental bridge is an option to fill the gap. To install a dental bridge, you must have the teeth around the opening altered to place crowns on either side of the gap. 

The crowns are anchors for the bridge, a false tooth, or teeth your dental professional cements into place.

What Are the Main Differences Between Implants and Bridges?

Both dental implants and bridges fill the gap left by a missing tooth or teeth. However, that is one of the few similarities.

A dental implant requires a titanium implant to be surgically inserted into the jawbone, replicating your lost tooth’s root. After the insertion, the jawbone fuses with the implant through osseointegration. While the bone and implant fuse, you will have a temporary protective cover placed on the implant. 

After the osseointegration completes, you receive a temporary crown that allows the gum to grow and shape around it naturally. Finally, a permanent crown replaces the temporary crown. Often, your temporary replacement tooth can be immediately attached to the implant.

While the process is lengthy, the surrounding teeth are left unchanged. 

A dental bridge does not replace a missing tooth’s root. Instead, the prosthetic requires permanently altering the surrounding teeth to support the bridge. Your dental bridge works similarly to an actual bridge, bridging the gap between the remaining teeth. 

When placing a dental bridge, your dentist files down the abutting teeth to place a crown, allowing them to function as anchors for your bridge. 

What Advantages Do Dental Implants Offer?

Some patients are better candidates for dental bridges, and others are better suited for dental implants. Determining which treatment is right for you requires a consultation and exam by your oral and maxillofacial surgeon. However, dental implants offer some clear advantages for patients who are candidates for both solutions.

Dental Implants Preserve the Jawbone

Losing a tooth means losing its root, which is an integral part of your jawbone. The gap in your jawbone left behind causes the bone to atrophy immediately. Inserting an implant into the jawbone effectively restores the tooth’s root, stopping jawbone deterioration and restoring gum health. 

Once the implant fuses with the jawbone, you can talk, chew, and eat naturally. This stimulation restores your jawbone’s strength. 

By contrast, a bridge does not replace a lost root; it only rests on the adjacent teeth. While implants restore jaw health, bridges strain the neighboring teeth and jaw, often leading to further bone deterioration and tooth loss.

Dental Implants Are a Permanent Solution

Provided you care for your dental implants appropriately, the titanium implant that fuses with your jawbone is permanent and should never need replacing. 

Dental bridges typically last an average of eight years. However, newer bridges can last up to ten years with exceptional care.

Dental Implants Are Stronger

Since the osseointegration process fuses dental implants with your jawbone, they are the most robust and durable solution for missing teeth.

While a dental bridge is also strong, applying extra force puts the teeth supporting the bridge under pressure, making those teeth more susceptible to damage or loss.

Dental Implants Look and Feel More Natural

Once your dental implant has its permanent crown, it will look, feel, and function like your natural teeth. The root implanted in your jaw ensures the implant remains stable and strong. In addition, a dental implant allows you to forget your new tooth is not the same as your original teeth. 

Dental bridges tend to lose their natural appearance over time. Since bridges connect the teeth to one another, they do not look as natural as implants. In addition, you should avoid certain foods and beverages, as some can prematurely damage your dental bridge.

Dental Implants Improve Your Oral Health

Dental implants stabilize adjacent teeth, preserve the jawbone, and protect the gums from bacteria and decay. On the other hand, dental bridges can cause oral health complications. 

For example, since the abutting teeth need to have enamel and dentin removed to place the crowns to anchor the bridge, they may be more susceptible to decay and rot. 

In addition, the pressure from the bridge can cause damage to these teeth. Also, sticky foods and bacteria can become trapped between and underneath a dental bridge, causing infection and tooth decay.

Discover Solutions for Your Missing Teeth at OMSNashville Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

OMSNashville Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery’s team of board-certified surgeons provides patients with robust solutions to restore their smiles and maintain their oral health. Our skilled surgeons regularly place dental implants using our advanced technology to offer the most optimal results possible.

OMSNashville prioritizes your comfort and convenience, offering nine locations to accommodate your needs. In addition, you can learn more about dental implants and receive answers to our most frequently asked questions on OMSNashville’s dental implant page.