The reason for an implant, other than aesthetic reasons, is to maintain the integrity of your bite, says Dr. Mitch Conditt, a dentist in Fort Worth, Texas. If you don't have something in place, your teeth will try and correct that gap itself, which can lead to teeth collapsing and extraction of more teeth.
Most of the time, an implant or a bridge is offered to correct the situation, says Dr. Conditt. A bridge is where you'd take the tooth in front and the tooth in back of the missing space and you place crowns on these teeth. The missing space would also have a crown and this would be one piece, cemented on the teeth in front and back to fix it in place. An implant is a piece of titanium that is placed into the bone basically replacing the root of the tooth and then a single crown is placed on top of that implant.
The major difference between the two, according to Dr. Conditt, is that with a bridge, if something were to ever break, you end up having to replace the entire bridge, whereas with an implant, you don't have to do that. Dr. Conditt says that the main disadvantage with an implant is the time. From beginning to end with an implant, it could take anywhere between 3 and 6 months, whereas a bridge, it can be done in 2-3 weeks.
To determine which is the best option, Dr. Conditt recommends speaking with your dentist about your expectations. To have an implant placed, it needs to be first determined if there's enough bone to put the implant in and the time frame you're looking for is also important to consider.
Dr. Mitch Conditt is a dentist in Fort Worth, Texas and a leading sleep expert with Sleep Better TV, providing online, on-demand, sleep breathing disorder video content. Sleep Better TV is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.