When you have a tooth or teeth that are missing or that need to be extracted because of severe decay, being broken, and the like, you have several options for covering over that freshly exposed area in the gum line. Dental implants and bridges are two popular options. Note a few questions you might have about replacing missing teeth with an implant or bridge and then discuss these with a dentist if you still need more information.
What is the difference between a bridge and an implant?
An implant is screwed right into the jawbone and then a cap is put over this screw so it becomes a permanent fixture in your mouth. It looks and seems very real and doesn't need to be removed to be cleaned or maintained.
A bridge is a false tooth that is attached to a set of caps or crowns that slide over the teeth next to the missing tooth and which are glued into place. The caps keep the bridge or artificial tooth in place. When you choose this type of bridge, the teeth surrounding the area may need to be drilled down so they can have the caps fit properly. Other types of bridges have the false tooth attached to wires that slide over and behind the surrounding teeth to keep it in place, and this bridge needs to be removed to be cleaned, like dentures.
Do appliances affect a person's appearance or can they be seen?
A dental implant looks just like your regular teeth and, since it screws into the jaw line with the cap being permanently glued over this screw, no one should ever know you have it. It may make you look slightly different if you've been missing a tooth for some time as the cheek may have sunk just slightly in that area, and the implant reshapes it. However, this difference is very slight and may actually improve your appearance.
A bridge with caps usually cannot be seen or noticed either, but note that, because the surrounding teeth need to be drilled down and then capped, this can affect the appearance of those teeth. They may now seem larger or smaller than before and this too can change the shape of your face and cheeks. If you choose a bridge with wires, the wires are usually not noticeable since they are behind the teeth but of course the bridge can be seen when you take it out to clean it.