This two-part article series discusses the benefits of dental implants over traditional teeth replacement techniques: conventional bridges and removable dentures.
Dental implants get an extremely unfair and unjustified rap for being expensive. Our strange perception of value has, in many cases, deemed this advanced and sophisticated teeth replacement technology “too expensive” and “unnecessary” especially with the availability of cheaper options. These options are traditional dental bridges and removable dentures, which can be used to address single tooth loss and a failing dentition respectively. Yet, if you take a closer look, you will see that these alternative technologies simply cannot rival the benefits and longevity of dental implants. Actually, they could end up costing you more in the long run!
In order to develop a deeper appreciation for the price of new teeth, we spoke to the dental implant specialists responsible for the replacement of missing teeth using this remarkable technology. They provided the following points to explain just why traditional bridges and removable dentures can counter-intuitively work out to be the more expensive teeth replacement choice.
Reasons Traditional Bridges Ultimately AREN’T Typically Cheaper Than Dental Implants
Traditional dental bridges are designed to take the place of a missing tooth crown. They consist of a series of ceramic crowns that have been bonded together. The two outer crowns are placed over the healthy teeth neighboring the empty tooth socket, enabling them to provide support for the middle crown, which is suspended in the gap. Here, it assumes the functional role of the missing tooth crown, but not the root.
Dental implants, on the other hand, are placed directly in the jawbone into a surgically prepared “sockets”. In this respect, a dental implant resumes the role of the root, supporting the crown of the replacement tooth or teeth and thus not damaging or compromising any existing neighboring teeth. In other words, dental implants are freestanding and, just like natural teeth; they rely almost exclusively on the jawbone for support.
So, upon closer inspection, we see that the real cost of new teeth with traditional bridges can include:
- Two perfectly healthy teeth: The supporting natural crowns have to be filed down to nubs in order to support the bridge. This means that the price you pay for new teeth can “cost you” two healthy teeth as well!
- The increased risk of further tooth loss: Traditional bridges tend to leave the supporting teeth at a greater risk of bacterial decay. Bacteria and food debris can also work their way underneath the replacement tooth crown, not only risking infection, but also discomfort and unpleasant symptoms, including bad breath and a persistent bad taste in the mouth.
- Atrophy of the underlying jawbone: The tooth roots play a vital role in maintaining jawbone health. When they go missing and are left without replacement (as is the case with bridges, which only replace the crowns), the jawbone can atrophy. This causes the bone level to drop around the site of the missing tooth or teeth, contributing to the destabilization of the entire dental arch and possibly leading to a greater risk of further tooth loss.
- Restoration and replacement: Unlike dental implants, traditional bridges tend to require frequent restoration and, typically every 10 to 15 years, replacement altogether. Dental implants can boast an impressive lifespan of 20 and 30 years or even longer if looked after properly! So while you might initially fork out less money for a bridge, in the long run, factoring into account repeat costs of restoration and replacement, dental implants almost always work out to be the smarter investment.
To add insult to injury, bridges don’t tend to feel natural, which causes patients no end to discomfort and self-consciousness.
Stay Tuned for Part 2
In Part 2 of this article series, we shall discuss the many reasons removable dentures may not ultimately be cheaper than dental implants as an option for new teeth.