The purpose of a dental implant as well as the purpose of a bridge is to replace one or more missing teeth. With a bridge, the teeth on either side of the space have to be ground down, so we have to sacrifice healthy tooth structure to contain the bridge. Also with a bridge, there’s nothing there to stimulate the bone in the area where the teeth were lost, so that bone will continue to resorb away. This can be a cosmetic issue if the bridge is in the front of the mouth, and it usually becomes a maintenance issue for patients cleaning their mouths. Also with a bridge, when the bridge is placed, it’s one unit, so in the future if one of the supporting teeth has a problem and needs to be addressed, usually the whole bridge has to be sacrificed.
A dental implant, unlike a bridge, only replaces what’s missing–the missing tooth or teeth. It doesn’t involve the adjacent teeth. We don’t have to cut down those teeth. The nice thing about the dental implant is that it acts like the root and bone, so it continues to stimulate bone to stay in that area, and because it’s not attached to the adjacent teeth, it doesn’t alter the way you clean your teeth. With dental implants, sometimes people get the impression that they’re an aggressive procedure, but it’s actually a very gentle procedure.
The implant is placed gently into the bone and allowed to heal. Most patients, once the implant is placed, they can go on to work after that. It’s a very kind procedure in the mouth. Once the implant is restored with a crown, it’s one of the most predictable procedures that we do. The implant itself actually bonds to the bone, fuses to the bone, so it’s very secure in the bone, and the crown is attached to it very securely, so it’s a very predictable procedure.
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