Dental Implants or Dental Bridges – Which is the Better Option?

Key takeaways

  • Dental implants and bridges are both solutions for missing teeth, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. The choice between the two depends on factors such as dental health, cost, and personal preference.
  • Dental implants are durable, improve oral health, feel and look natural, and have a high success rate. However, they are costly, require a longer procedure timeline and involve surgical risks.
  • Dental bridges are more affordable and quicker to implement than dental implants and don’t require surgery. However, they can damage adjacent teeth, might not look as natural, and do not prevent bone loss or stimulate bone growth.
  • The choice between dental implants and dental bridges depends on various factors, including oral health, cost, and personal preference.

The loss of a tooth or teeth is traumatising, both physically and emotionally. It requires an initial adjustment in the way we eat, speak and smile.

But, over and above the immediate, disconcerting feeling that tooth loss effects, the question of replacement becomes a reality.

Is the loss of a tooth or teeth an uncommon phenomenon, in general?

The Facts Relating to Oral Health in Australia

A 2020 report issued by the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, in conjunction with the University of Adelaide Dental School, citied a quarter of adults interviewed as rating their oral health on the fair to poor spectrum.

A whopping 92% of adults are unable to recognise the manifestation of early-stage tooth decay, as revealed in a survey conducted by OHAP (Oral Health Advisory Panel).

With these statistics as a marker, a tooth or teeth loss is likely to occur during the average lifetime.

The groups most likely to suffer tooth loss are middle-aged, with a natural increase as age progresses.

Young people are no less at risk. Adult tooth loss is reported as early as age fourteen.

What Should You Do When You Lose a Tooth?

Try to see a dentist as soon as possible – the longer you leave gaps in your mouth, the worse the situation is likely to become.

Gaps in the mouth cause the teeth to shift, produce discomfort in the mouth and jaw, and may change the shape of the face in time, apart from impairing normal functions, like eating and talking.

Bone density deteriorates in the jaw bone, too.

Once that happens, tooth replacement becomes more complicated, and supplementary procedures might be recommended to restore bone loss.

Assessing Treatment Options

There are several options open to patients who have lost teeth – both traditional and modern solutions are dependent upon a number of factors.

Your dentist will assess the extent of the problem, the condition of the overall oral presentation with the help of x-rays or a 3-D scan and advise accordingly.

The most widely prescribed solutions for tooth loss are dental bridges or dental implants.

Dr Peter Laird and colleagues at Glenferrie Dental, Hawthorn, VIC, specialise in the fitment of dental bridges and insertion of dental implants; Book a consultation in person or online.

Which circumstances influence the choice of treatment?

What are the pros and cons associated with each option, and are the costs involved in both instances likely to be covered by medical insurance in Australia?

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges have been, and remain, the traditional way of treating tooth loss.

Traditional Dental Bridges

What are Traditional Dental Bridges?

Traditional dental bridges are false teeth held in place by cemented dental crowns secured by the adjacent teeth surrounding the gap where the tooth or teeth are missing, in the case where you have natural teeth on either side of the gap.

Traditional dental bridges can consist of one or two false teeth, the name for which is a pontic.

Each tooth adjacent to the pontic is referred to as the abutment(s) – these teeth are the natural teeth that give the pontic its strength.

How Are Traditional Dental Bridges Fitted?

Your dentist prepares the abutment teeth by shaving or adjusting the enamel to make room for the crown – the process makes the teeth smaller.

The result is that the natural teeth look like pegs and serve to provide the anchor to which the bridge is attached.

Enamel does not grow back, and the risk of pain where root canal treatment occurs may be experienced, though this is rare, occurring in 5% of patients.

The crowns are made from ceramics or porcelain, generally, though some ceramic crowns are coupled with metals like gold or strong alloys.

Cantilever bridges, partial dentures and Maryland bridges are not as commonly used in modern dentistry and are prone to be unstable, cause fractures and promote gum disease.

Fitting a traditional bridge usually requires two visits to the dentist.

Caring for Traditional Dental Bridges

Because of the nature of the procedure, teeth will need protection and care.

The use of piksters is recommended.

Piksters are ultra-slender brushes that are available in different sizes. Cylindrical in shape, tiny bristles aid in reaching small crevices and hard-to-reach spaces between the teeth.

Superfloss compliments the oral hygiene routine for traditional bridges. The floss consists of a hard strip, a spongy length in order to clear away plaque and bacteria and a regular floss strip.

What do Traditional Dental Bridges Cost and Does Medical Insurance Cover the Procedure in Australia?

Cost Range Dental Bridge Service
$3000 – $5000 (3-unit fixture)
$900 – 1800 (2 crowns)
$800 – $1200 per pontic

A percentage of the cost of fitting a traditional dental bridge is covered by medical insurance, depending on the client plan.

Dental Implants

Dental implants have been in use in cosmetic dental surgery since the Sixties. Techniques and materials have been improved and revolutionised over time.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants replace both the root of the missing tooth and the tooth itself, thus, the crown.

Unlike the traditional dental bridge, the dental implant does not rely on or affect adjacent teeth.

Problems with adjacent teeth do not affect the implant, which is advantageous.

How Are Dental Implants Fitted?

By means of a surgical procedure, a screw is inserted in the jawbone – the process is referred to as an endosteal procedure, to which a ceramic crown is fitted.

In a case where sufficient bone is present, the abutment or post is made from high-grade titanium and is very strong.

In cases where the bone has atrophied, bone grafting may be recommended.

Dental implants have a very high success rate, and the aesthetic outcome is particularly appealing to patients.

Implants can last a good 20 – 25 years with the correct care.

The risks associated with abutment and crown damage are minimal.

The process takes between 2-6 months from initiation to completion.

Caring For Dental Implants

Dental implants can be cared for in much the same way as regular teeth.

No unique treatments or devices are needed.

What Do Dental Implants Cost and Does Medical Insurance Cover the Procedure in Australia?

A single dental implant can cost anything between $3000 – $ 7000 within range.

The cost does not include complimentary procedures that may accompany treatment, from root canal treatment to a sinus lift or bone grafting.

Medical insurance does not cover dental implant therapy as a rule, as it is considered a cosmetic procedure.

The medical insurance company might make an exception in two instances: if the patient’s oral health is negatively affecting their overall health and for concession cardholders.

Some hospital plans will cover the surgery if performed in the hospital.

If the client’s medical policy covers periodontics, they may be able to claim.

It’s always best to check the limitations set by the medical insurance provider to receive complete clarity before committing to a procedure.

Our dental professionals at Glenferrie Dental, Hawthorn, will be able to guide you to make a decision that fits your particular profile. Financial plans are supported, and friendly staff are always available to address your concerns and answer any questions you may have. 

Get a Free Dental Implant Quote From our Australian Trained Dentists

Dental implants are a significant undertaking that you would not want to entrust with just anyone. They are, however, worth the investment. 

It is the most commonly chosen option with patients for missing teeth, and you get a more natural look and feel. You are looking to improve and change your life.  

At the end of the day, you make a saving but can encounter many challenges. Put the health and care of your teeth in the hands of those you can trust. 

Get a free quote today from Dr Peter Laird at Glenferrie Dental.

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