So you're missing a tooth, but you shouldn't be embarrassed. You're not alone, and there are many solutions to correct missing teeth, so don't assume dentures are the only option. Bridges and dental implants are now common ways to replace teeth, and there are some serious advantages dental implants have over bridges you should consider.

They Stimulate Bone Growth

If you don't use it, you lose it. This sentiment is true for your jaw bone too. The root of your tooth sits in your jawbone, giving it something to do: support the tooth. If you lose that tooth, the jawbone in that area atrophies. A dental implant is an artificial root that sits in your jawbone like a natural tooth. This action gives the jawbone something to do, and as a result, it remains strong and sturdy, keeping the shape of your mouth intact.  

A bridge, on the other hand, doesn't sit inside your jawbone. It uses the surrounding teeth to literally create a bridge over the gap. The artificial tooth sits on top of your gums, which isn't enough to stimulate your jawbone, so it shrinks. With enough missing teeth, the entire shape of your jaw may drastically change.

Dental Implants Are the Most Durable Option

The artificial root used in implants is made from titanium, which possesses a unique ability. It can bond to bone. Your teeth don't just sit in your gums with nothing holding them in place. The jawbone fuses to them to create more stability. The same thing happens with a titanium root. As a result, the implant is just as durable as a real tooth, and even with wear and tear, it may even last the rest of your life.

As you now know, bridges are supported by your surrounding teeth. This is done by filing down the enamel and bonding the bridge to the teeth. It creates a strong hold that withstands general wear and tear, but because two teeth are doing the work of three, a lot of pressure is placed on the bonds. Eventually, they breakdown and need replacing. You may even need to replace a bridge multiple times because they only last 5 to 15 years.  

Implants Work and Look Like Natural Teeth

If you just have a single implant, no one will know you ever had a missing tooth. This is because they work and look like natural teeth. You can clean them as you do your regular teeth because they aren't connected to anything except your jawbone. Because they sit in your jawbone, the gum line looks more natural too.

Bridges also look relatively natural, but flossing proves more difficult than with your natural teeth. You need to clean under the bridge. This requires special floss or floss threaders, which takes time and can be extremely painful if you slack on your flossing. A common visual problem with bridges is gaps between the bridge and gum. Remember, with a bridge, your jawbone continues to diminish, and so does your gum. Overtime, a small gap may appear between the bridge and your gums.

A missing tooth is easy to fix, and a dental implant is the best option because they mimic natural teeth better than any other option. For more information about dental implants, contact your dentist today.