Implant vs. bridge
June 23, 2007 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Is an implant a solution to the terrible removeable bridge I just got? It's my front tooth and the tooth next to it. I hate the bridge, it hurts, I can't eat, what I do eat I can't taste, I can't talk--it sounds like I'm drunk I slur so much and all around I'm very unhappy. This removeable bridge replaces a failed fixed bridge. The root canal on the front tooth went bad and the fixed bridge to which it was attached failed and couldn't be repaired. I'm very unhappy with the new (temporary) bridge and wonder if I can get an implant instead of going ahead with permanent removeable bridge. Anyone have a similar experience or recommendation?
posted by NorthCoastCafe to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Implants are much more expensive, but my understanding is that they are better long-hand for your jaw health. My dentist explains that, when teeth are pulled, we lose bone density in the jaw. (This is why people with dentures tend to have that more hollow look to their mouth area.) Bone is maintained by use (pressure), and the implant is, in effect a true artificial tooth screwed into a pin implanted in the jawbone.
posted by lleachie at 6:27 PM on June 23, 2007

I have a single tooth implant which replaces an upper molar which split mid-root canal. I didn't want to go the bridge route as they have a ~10 year life span and I didn't want to be continually messing about with refitting bridges the rest of my life as my jawbone eroded.

I absolutely love the implant; functionally and aesthetically, I cannot tell it apart from my natural teeth.

My installation required several stages because the roots of my former molar intruded deeply into my sinus cavity. An oral & maxillofacial surgeon took bone from my lower jaw and grafted it to fill the hole in the floor of my sinuses. I mention this because during the lengthy a-waiting-for-the-graft-to-take process, I had ample opportunities to meet other patients with far more messed up jaw needs than me: my doc apparently specializes in retired pro hockey players, victims of car crashes, and beginning nunchuck users. If their teeth can be fixed, it would seem yours could be too.

The bone graft was fully covered by my health insurance. The rest of it: the installation of the implant post and the crown, were not covered and I paid (dearly) out of pocket. Still, it was so worth it and would do it again with any further lost teeth.

It's probable that a restorative dentist will have the implant anchor a bridge which comprises of your missing tooth and some sort of cover for the tooth/teeth which were cut down back when you had the fixed bridge. The difference is the implant will feel rock solid when you chew as your bite pressure will transmit straight down instead of parallel to your jaw.

Hope that helps. Go talk to a restorative dentist, I gotta finish eating my GrapeNuts.
posted by jamaro at 7:21 PM on June 23, 2007

Sorry to break up the love-fest for implants, but I have a 7 year old bridge that I would not replace with an implant. When I had my temp-removable fake tooth on a retainer (also called a "flipper") I hated it. I then got my new fake teeth, and they are fantastic. It only took one session and a few weeks to get them made and attached. I am personally very afraid of dentists, so this was the best solution for me. I broke off the bottom halves of three of my front teeth, one eye tooth had to be pulled. The eye tooth is now a bridge which is attached to my two incisors next to it (both needed replacement post root canal). I feel no instability with mine, and they look great (no one can ever tell, even dentists are sometimes surprised by it). So, just some perspective on the awesomeness of a bridge, if you decide to go that route.
posted by nursegracer at 7:55 PM on June 23, 2007

You need to return to the dentist who just did this work that you don't like. It could be something as simply as adjusting the bite. It could be as complicated as a truly failed bridge. You might need an implant but you might also be a poor candidate for the procedure. None of us here can evaluate your dental health for any of these possibilities. Please, see your dentist. If you can't or won't go back to the doc who did this work, get another opinion. These decisions cannot be made without access to your x-rays and knowledge of your dental history.

I am not a dentist and I will not be a dentist. I never was a dentist and have not even played one on tv. See your dentist.
posted by bilabial at 8:40 PM on June 23, 2007

Good question. I have two 15 year old bridges. I was missing adult maxillary lateral incisors on my upper jaw, and basically had to get the bridge or have no teeth.

I was happy with the bridges and I've had to get them refitted twice in 15 years - not a bad stint I'd say. They do require a bit more work to keep clean; flossing is a chore.

I was only recently asked by my dentist if I'd thought about getting an implant. I wasn't too keen on it though as my bridges are fine and I'm not really that interested in oral surgery and multiple visits. Perhaps if I need another refit on the bridges I'll consider it.
posted by ca_little at 9:02 PM on June 23, 2007

I am very happy with my fixed bridge. I had a very similar problem; my capped front tooth broke under the gumline, having been weakened as a result of a root canal long before. I considered an implant, but was told by a dentist acquaintance that they are somewhat problematic for front teeth. So, I got a laminated fixed bridge, and have had no problems with it. I've only had it a couple of years, though.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:42 AM on June 24, 2007

Lower front two teeth--permanents never formed (extremely rare to have one, but two side by side was really rare!). I had them pulled at age 17 (the baby teeth). My parents had an Acid Etch Bridge put in (metal tabs on either side to cement to the back of my teeth), sometimes referred to as a Maryland Bridge. This saved the teeth on either side from having to be "crowned" to put in a more tradtional bridge.

It's been many years since then. I had braces as an adult, and had to get the bridge removed for braces, and replaced afterwards. About every 2 yrs., sometimes less, it would come loose. I no longer enjoyed biting into apples! I would bite hard things off from the side of my mouth. My husband is amazed at what I had to do to function on a day to day basis, (what I had to compensate for that other people don't have to). I was fearful of aspiration of the bridge if it came off, (go into my airway and have to be removed during a procedure). I had nightmares about it. My dentist encouraged me to get an implant, but I was traveling a lot and follow up would have been difficult.

So, I took the plunge in February. Because of it being in front, (although my front lower teeth) my dentist referred me to a periodontist because of the cosmetics of it. (Normally he refers to an oral surgeon to do implants). Since I never had the proper bone structure, I had to have a bone graft. I was sore for a few days. I went into the appointment knowing I might only get one implant (read--"post") because of the lack of room in that area. During the procedure he would determine if there was enough room. He also manipulated the gum tissue in that area to help the "final look".

Everything healed as it should, and the periodontist and dentist knew of a guy for the prothesis that does *excellent* work, nationally reknowned. It helps I'm in L.A.!!! I spent over an hour in his office last week, while he took his own photos of my mouth and current teeth. He sketched the teeth on either side. He noted that my permanent teeth on the bottom have different shades at different spots, and from different angles. This appt. was two weeks ago. I go this week for a "custom" shading appt. with him, to get it to look absolutely perfect.

My understanding, for me, is that once they place this (it will look like two teeth since that is what I am missing). My dentist will scoop a bit of the gum out to set it in--the final should look as if they are two Easter Eggs coming out of Easter Egg grass--erupting if you may.

I am grateful my parents didn't have a "traditional bridge" placed on me, and that the teeth on either side of the space were never ground down to be crowned for it. But, the etching for the cement and rebonding has taken it's toll on these teeth. My dentist plans to put veneers on the back of those teeth soon after the implant is in place to help protect against caries from developing where the etching was.

I look forward to biting into apples and not having to worry if the cement will come off on one side and not the other and that a permanent tooth will accidently break in the process.

My husband brought up another point, one I hadn't considered. He wonders how I can actually taste food. The tip of the tongue is the most sensitive, and if it's resting on metal, what am I really tasting? It must effect it, but it's been so many years I really don't remember. (they put the bridge back in place until the permanent prothesis gets put in place).

And I won't have nightmares about swallowing it or aspirating it!

I should have done this a long time ago. Ask your dentist about your current situation and what can be done for you. Do your homework.

I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. I look forward to biting into apples again!
posted by 6:1 at 12:11 PM on June 24, 2007

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