In many decisions, there is an option that looks to be better in the short-term and there is another option that looks to be better in the long-term. This is as true with the decision to replace a missing tooth as it is with most other decisions. In the short-term, a dental bridge might sound like a better option — it's cheaper, and you don't have to have surgery. In the long-term though, a dental implant is likely the better choice, even though it costs more and requires that you undergo surgery to have it put into place. Why? Well, there are a few reasons, actually.
A dental implant lasts a lifetime
A dental bridge can be expected to last about 5-15 years. After that point, you will probably need to get a new bridge. But there's also a chance you won't be able to get another one if the teeth on either side of the bridge are no longer strong enough to support it.
A dental implant, on the other hand, is a lifelong solution to a missing tooth. Your dentist might have to replace the crown portion of the tooth after a few decades, but this process is simple and non-surgical.
A dental implant doesn't put strain on your other teeth
Dental bridges attach to the teeth on either side of the gap. This is hard on those teeth. The neighboring teeth are put under extra pressure every time you chew on the bridge or even just push on it with your tongue. It's also harder for you to keep these teeth clean with a bridge in place, so they may start decaying.
A dental implant is completely independent of the other teeth. It is your best choice if you want to keep all of your teeth healthy in the years to come.
A dental implant will protect your jaw bone
When you are missing a tooth, there is a hole left behind in the jaw bone where that tooth used to be. This hole makes the jaw bone weak. Also, with no stimulation from a tooth root, the jaw bone often starts to deteriorate. A dental bridge just sits on top of the jaw bone, so it does not correct any of this. A dental implant, on the other hand, supports and stimulates the jaw bone. That allows it to help keep the jaw bone strong throughout your lifetime. You want a strong and healthy jaw bone.
A dental implant is simply the better choice in the long-term, and it's usually smart to make long-term success a priority when making decisions for your health. To learn more about dental implants, talk to a dentist.