Dental bridges have come a long way through the years. While many people still envision bridges as the removable “false” teeth that wearers soak in a glass as they sleep at night - and these bridges are indeed still worn by many - state-of-the-art modern bridges offer so much more. Whether they are affixed to porcelain crowns placed on a patient’s natural teeth or to strong, stable dental implants, today’s dental bridges look, feel, and function remarkably like the real deal.
At the practice of Keith Kelley, DDS, in Troy, implant vs. crown-supported bridges is a topic that is discussed in detail during consultations with patients who are missing between one and three consecutive teeth and searching for the best possible method of tooth replacement. Both methods yield outstanding benefits and are vastly preferable to leaving the gap in the smile untreated. As to which method is best suited to your particular case, the only sure way to find out is to meet with Dr. Kelly at his office for a private, one-on-one consultation.
Crown-supported Dental Bridges
There are two basic types of bridges: removable partial dentures and fixed bridges. Fixed bridges cannot be removed by hand and are secured in the mouth either by a resin bonding material or, more commonly, by custom-crafted dental crowns.
The bridge comprises between one and three replacement teeth (pontics) that are bookended by dental crowns. When these crowns are attached to the teeth on either side of the gap where natural teeth are missing, the pontics fill in the empty space, once again making the smile complete.
While crown-supported dental bridges are highly effective at returning form and function to the mouth, they do require the structural modification of the teeth adjacent to the gap in order to accommodate the crowns. To begin with, this is only possible if these teeth are strong and healthy enough to support the crowns, which is not necessarily a given. Even if they are strong and healthy, they will be marginally less so after they have been prepped for the placement of the crowns. Nevertheless, this is generally to be considered an acceptable compromise in order to replace missing teeth.
Implant-supported Dental Bridges
The best way to replace missing teeth without affecting the health and integrity of the remaining natural teeth in the mouth is to secure the bridge with dental implants. Dental implants are tiny posts made out of pure titanium that are surgically placed into the jaw. Over a period of months, these posts integrate with the bone, providing artificial tooth roots as strong and stable as healthy natural tooth roots. These implants are then used to secure the dental bridge without having to rely on natural teeth for support.
In addition to restoring form and function to the mouth, implant-supported dental bridges offer the added benefit of restoring oral health to a near-optimal state. When a tooth is lost, the human brain takes this loss to mean that the soft and hard tissues that once supported the tooth are no longer of any use and therefore no longer require any of the body’s precious resources for sustenance. As a result, the periodontal tissues and jawbone that supported this tooth begin to degrade. When the titanium post is planted into the jaw, the brain is “tricked” into believing that the natural root has returned, and the degradation process is halted. This effect only occurs with dental implants, as they are the only dental restoration that replicates the root structure of a missing tooth.
Learn More about Implant vs. Crown-supported Bridges
To learn more about implant vs. crown-supported bridges, please contact the practice of Keith Kelley, DDS today.