When a single tooth is missing, the two most common treatment options are the traditional tooth supported bridge (3-unit bridge) or an implant supported crown. When a traditional bridge is used to replace a missing tooth, normally the adjacent teeth are cut down into peg shapes, destroying natural dentition in order to fit the cemented bridge in place.
This method of tooth replacement can be functional for a period of time. However, the teeth supporting this type of bridge frequently develop decay, leading to root-canal treatment or periodontal bone loss. This often becomes more complicated to treat later. In addition, the bridge itself will decay and eventually fail. This failure will lead to several costly replacements over a lifetime.
On the other hand, there are many advantages to replacing a single missing tooth with an implant supported crown:
- It looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth
- It is much more esthetic long term
- There is no need to grind down the adjacent natural teeth
- The bone is preserved, preventing a visible bony defect
- It is more hygienic (easier to clean) than a tooth supported bridge
- It does not decay and you will never need a root canal