Choosing Between Bridges and Dental Implants

Considerations for Missing Teeth

If you have a missing tooth, or teeth for that matter, there are a couple of options you can consider. Dental bridge or dental implant, each of which has its advantages. Both restore the function of missing teeth, as well as bring back the aesthetics of a complete set of teeth. Let’s look at what they offer, their differences, and discover which is best in addressing your unique mouth condition.

Dental Bridge versus Dental Implant

Firstly, how are they constructed? A bridge is made of a false tooth suspended between two crowns that the dentist cements onto prepared natural teeth on either side of the gap. An implant is a false tooth attached to a titanium post inserted in the jaw bone the periodontist or oral surgeon has prepared. The color of the false teeth in both appliances matches the surrounding natural teeth. However, a bridge may be slightly more noticeable because, unlike an implant, the false tooth of a bridge isn’t embedded in the gum.

When deciding between a bridge or implant, the location of the missing tooth is another important consideration. A bridge that replaces a missing tooth at the front of your mouth may not look so natural, unlike if it replaces one toward the back of the mouth. You will be able to smile with more confidence, if so. In fact, the ADA recommends implants for restoring a natural, attractive smile that looks like nothing has been replaced.

Then, unlike bridges, implants also help prevent the jaw bone from deteriorating. We know that the absence of the biting and chewing forces on the bone where a tooth once was there, will cause the inactive bone to shrink and deteriorate. With implants, the titanium post embedded into the jaw will encourage integration and bone growth that will support the false tooth. However, the false tooth in a dental bridge doesn’t contact the jaw bone, so there may be bone loss.

Time and Cost of Treatment

Another consideration is the time and the cost of treatment. If you have the budget for an implant, it might be better. However then, a bridge may take over two visits within a few weeks, but the waiting time for an implant is longer – something like three to six months for the jaw bone to integrate around the implant post. On the other hand, a dental bridge may be better for your budget. Maintenance-wise, both options should be cared for similarly. Good oral hygiene prolongs the life of both options.

Deciding What’s Best For You in Bellingham

Let us help you decide the best option for you when you come see us at Tetrick Family Dentistry. Whether you choose a bridge or implant, what counts is whether your smile is happy and confident.

What Parents Should Know About Their Baby’s Teeth

Caring For Baby’s Teeth

A child’s primary teeth are just as important as their permanent teeth. It’s important to care for them as they are the spaces or positions of the future permanent teeth. Your baby’s teeth help the child chew food and speak. Hence, it is best to introduce good dental care for children during their infancy.

The following tips may help keep a child’s teeth and gums healthy:

  • Using a warm, wet washcloth, wipe your baby’s gums every day (including teeth, if any). It removes sugars from the gums and, besides, it will accustom the infant with the feeling of cleaning their teeth.
  • Don’t let babies and toddlers go to bed with bottles or sippy cups. Sugar in milk and juice can cause tooth decay if they remain on the teeth for long periods.
  • As your baby nears one year old, he should learn to get used to a sippy cup. By that age, he shouldn’t be using bottles anymore.
  • You can give toddlers juice or milk at meal times, if not water. In between meals, siping water from sippy cups should be encouraged.
  • Using a soft baby toothbrush, brush your one-year old infant’s teeth twice a day. Use only a small amount of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice. In between 3 and 6 years, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Brush your child’s teeth for them until they can clean their teeth well without help. Monitor them to make sure that they spit out the toothpaste. When not in use, keep toothpaste out of their reach.
  • Within 6 months of their first tooth appearing or at 1 year of age, whichever comes first. Bring your child to the dentist. This is an ADA recommendation.
  • Do not share eating utensils with a child or clean pacifiers by putting them in their mouth. These can pass the adult’s cavity-causing bacteria to the child.

These are common tips and suggestions, and may not be fit for all children. Please advise with our dentist for personalized dental health tips.


Additional Dental Health Advice for Children

If you have a new baby or a toddler, drop by Dr. Tetrick’s dental clinic in Bellingham for a checkup and see how you can maintain your child’s oral health at home in addition to routine checkups.

Dental Bridges: Know What To Expect

The Procedure, Recovery and Complications

What is the procedure for having a dental bridge?

That’s depending on the type of bridged agreed. For a traditional bridge, the teeth on either side of the gap are prepared – removing any decay and grinding them down. Next, an impression of the mouth is taken. The dentist will put a temporary bridge on the grounded teeth for protection.The patient returns for the next appointment after a couple of weeks when the temporary bridge is replaced by the final bridge work.

It is the same process for cantilever bridges, except that only one tooth will need a crown. A Maryland bridge requires less preparation, since no crowns are involved. Both bridges also require at least two appointments. When a person has implants to support a bridge, the process typically begins with implant surgery. Then, the dentist will take an impression of the mouth to create a bridge that fits over the implants seamlessly.

How soon will a patient recover from the procedure?

The patient will feel some tenderness and soreness after teeth grinding; likewise, after the placement of the bridge. The gums may be tender and bleed. After a few days the soreness will subside for most patients. However, the gums may need a few weeks to completely heal.

The patient can return to work or go back to school as soon as they feel well enough, and this is usually the day after the appointment. Those who choose to be sedated during the bridge placement should not drive after the procedure. Similarly, those who opted for implants may feel unwell after waking up from anesthesia and may need assistance for a day or two after the procedure.

Bridges need the usual care afforded to natural teeth. Good oral hygiene is essential. Dental appointments, at least twice yearly, should be observed to check the bridge and clean the teeth.

Are there complications?

There can be bridge failure. It may slip out of place or break which would require another bridge, implants, or other dental procedures. There can be pain or chewing problems. Patients can struggle adjusting to chewing in the weeks after the procedure. The bite may be adjusted if necessary. There can be an infection if the patient has widespread tooth decay or gum disease.

It is possible for a tooth to continue to decay under the crown that anchors the bridge. This is more common in people with serious gum disease or very severe cavities in the teeth that need crowns. To prevent tooth decay around a bridge, it is crucial to practice excellent home care, including brushing and flossing. Some floss products are designed for use with bridges. Working with a knowledgeable dentist and carefully following their aftercare instructions can reduce the risk of serious complications.


Dental Bridges at Tetrick Family Dentistry

Dental Bridges are a cost-effective alternative to dental implants, and represent a good solution for many people who are missing teeth. Contact our Bellingham office if you have any questions or concerns about dental bridges.