Dental Implants, Dental Bridge, Crowns & Partial Dentures

An article written with Dr. Sherry Tsai

If you are one of the many researching dental implants, bridges, partial dentures or crowns then you likely have as many questions as answers. To begin with, it is important to understand that there are four basic ways to fix a missing or broken tooth (or teeth): 1. A fixed bridge, 2. A removable appliance like a denture or partial denture, 3. A crown 4. A dental implant. In this article I will cover these solutions along with dental implant techniques. This way we may be able to answer the questions you have, and maybe a few you didn’t and you can make an informed decision. As always we invite you to call our office with any specific dental questions.



example dental implant and tooth laying on table

What is a dental implant?

The phrase ‘dental implant’ is really a general term used to describe a few procedures and techniques. And, when considering which type is right for you it is important to be familiar with all your options. The implant and the mini-implant are considered true implants that replace lost teeth while the bridge, partial dentures and crowns are ways to replace missing or broken teeth and each comes with a set of pros and cons. In addition to this, it is important to consider which type of dental implant will most closely mimic the strength of your natural teeth with the least amount of complication and care. After all, the activities of eating, smiling, laughing and talking should not be dependent on how comfortable you are with your dental implant. They should feel like natural activities; exactly how Dr. Tsai thinks your dental implant should feel. Natural. Click here for a dental implant video


illustration of a dental bridge

Dental Bridge - pros and cons

If you have a single tooth that needs to be replaced then one of the simplest solutions is the dental bridge. It is small, quick and it is a relatively common way to replace a missing tooth. However, the truth about a dental bridge is that your dentist has to cut down other teeth in order to hold it in place. Your dentist, when placing the dental bridge, will have to grind down the neighboring teeth in order to support the cemented bridge. In addition to this, the gums can recede around the bridge thus causing the bone that holding the tooth in place to be reabsorbed by the body ultimately causing the bridge to fail. And the glue that holds the bridge in place can wear out allowing a place for bacteria to hide, which also increases the chance of tooth decay or cavities. So, while a dental bridge is a common and trusted way to replace a missing tooth there are some long-term problems associated with it that can lead to more serious issues. Especially when you consider the little discussed fact that dental bridges are difficult to floss around and keep clean.



illustration of a partial denture

Partial Denture - pros and cons

Another option in the quest for the right dental implant is the removable bridge or partial denture. The upside to these is that they are removable so cleaning is as easy as cleaning a denture every evening. You can replace multiple teeth even if the surrounding teeth are not in good shape. Of course, the biggest down side is that this type of dental implant does not look as good or as natural as people would like. In addition to this, because it is removable, the denture has to have a way to hold on to the teeth. The metal clasps that are required to hold the partial denture in your mouth are going to be partially visible, but more importantly, there is always the potential for discomfort when wearing removable hardware in the mouth.

illustration of a dental crown

The Dental Crown - pros and cons

The dental crown, while similar in approach to a dental implant, is another dental solution that has been around for many years. This technique can be used to replace damaged teeth or to anchor a bridge. The process of getting a dental crown involves preparing or drilling/cutting down the fractured or damaged tooth to expose healthy tooth structure. Then the new crown is placed over the healthy tooth structure. The use of metal, ceramic or a combination of the two is very common for dental crowns. However, each comes with its own limitations. For example, the ceramic crown looks very natural but it does not function well in the back of the mouth where biting pressures are greatest. The all metal is not as nice to look at but they are more durable. And, finally, the ceramic covered metal crown or PFM is durable but its appearance tends to change over time as your gum line recedes leaving the black metal line at the top of your tooth.

illustration of a dental implant cross-section

Dental Implants - the best choice

Ultimately, when considering the pros and cons of dental implants Dr. Tsai feels that it is necessary to look at the longevity of your restoration. The crown, which can look like a real tooth, will need to be replaced in ten to fifteen years. And, the truth with the removable bridge or denture is that they will usually become loose or unstable. Also, the dental bridge will require your dentist to cut down natural tooth structure of other teeth your other teeth, which places them at risk. And, by placing your other teeth at risk you are increasing your chances for further dental procedures, more discomfort and cost. Though all are of these options are frequently chosen by patients, the dental implant is almost always the better decision.

The dental implant is not without its own risks but there is no disputing the long-term benefits of dental implants. To begin with, the dental implant does require a surgery, which can create some discomfort, but for most any discomfort is usually gone in a day or two. However, the up side to the dental implant is that they are an investment that will last a lifetime. The dental implants done by Dr. Tsai will look natural, perform just like your teeth and taking care of them is simple. The dental implant will allow you to floss around it, something you cannot do with a bridge, and brush it just like your natural teeth. There is no special care that needs to be done and with the advancements in material you can be confident that your dental implant will not change color or look different five, ten or fifteen years down the road.



Dental implants help preserve your jaw bone

There is another way that the dental implant done by Dr. Tsai is beneficial to the health of your teeth and jaw. And that is that this true dental implant, unlike any of the others mentioned in this article, actually replaces the root of the tooth. What this means is that the dental implant is actually anchored directly to the bone in your jaw thus your body does not reabsorb the bone under that tooth. And because the dental implant integrates directly with the jawbone it helps to keep the bone strong and healthy which allows for a lifetime of normal function.

woman smiling about her dental implants

Should you get dental implants

The decision on which type of dental implant will work for you is based on a number of factors. The impact on the other teeth, the potential for complications and the long-term effectiveness of the method you choose will all play a role. If you have any questions please call our office




Have questions about dental implants or mini dental implants? E-mail or call us: 650-583-5880




Dr. Sherry Tsai provides dental implants and mini dental implants in Millbrae, San Bruno, Burlingame, San Mateo and the Bay Area

650-583-5880
88 Capuchino Dr.  
Millbrae CA 94030
(map)


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