A dental implant broken into sections

Dental implants are similar to your natural teeth, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Most of the time, the differences don’t matter, but one of the times that it might matter is when a dental implant and a natural tooth would be linked together by a dental bridge.

Columbus restorative dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian can help you understand your dental restoration options. He will let you know which restorations will potentially work for you, as well as the potential costs and benefits of each approach. Then you can make an informed decision about how you want to proceed.

What Is a Dental Bridge?

senior woman smiling and eating a salad

First, it’s important to understand what a dental bridge is. A dental bridge is a tooth replacement strategy that replaces one or more teeth using a restoration that bridges between supports (such as natural teeth or dental implants). Between the supports, there are one or more replacement teeth that don’t have roots. These replacement teeth, called pontics, rest on the gums but put little pressure on the gums. Although dentists sometimes call bridges fixed partial dentures (or FPDs), this is a key difference between bridges and dentures. Dentures (both full dentures and partial dentures) put pressure from biting and chewing onto the gums. In contrast, bridges put this pressure on its supports, which direct the force into bones. This makes bridges more comfortable, gives them better function, and helps them last longer. 

Since both natural teeth and dental implants can support a dental bridge, many people wonder whether Columbus restorative dentist Dr. Mike can support a bridge with one of each. 

Why It Might Seem Smart to Combine Them

There are obvious reasons why you might want to combine an implant and a natural tooth. First of all, it means that you need fewer dental implants to replace lost teeth.. For example, Columbus restorative dentist Dr. Mike might replace two adjacent teeth by a dental implant and a bridge that extends over the gap to the natural tooth on the other side. And because you know that nothing is as good as a natural tooth, you might think that using one would help the dental bridge last longer.

This might seem especially logical if you have a dental bridge fail because one of the supporting teeth supporting can’t hold up its end of the bridge because of damage or decay. It might seem like the smart thing to replace that tooth with a dental implant. Then you can continue to use the functioning tooth to support the other side of the bridge.

It might also seem beneficial because a loose tooth could get support and stability from the dental implant. 

Potential Problems

But this is one of the places where the differences between your natural teeth and dental implants matters. Dental implants are affixed in the bone. Natural teeth, on the other hand, are encased in bone, but they’re actually secured by periodontal ligaments, soft but tough tissue that has a certain amount of flex to it. This acts as a cushion for the tooth under force.

So, when a dental implant and a tooth support a dental bridge together, the force distributes unevenly. Whenever force is put on the dental bridge, the natural tooth will give slightly because of the ligaments, but the dental implant won’t. This means that the dental implant will take more than its share of the bite force, and excessive bite force can lead to dental implant failure. In addition,there is tension on the dental bridge, trying to flex the hard, inflexible material, which could cause it to break.

And it’s not just the dental implant that might be in trouble. In some situations, the tooth in question might not be up to the task of supporting its side of the bridge. Then it’s best to remove it and replace it with a dental implant, too.

Finding the Best Dental Bridge Solution in Columbus

Columbus restorative dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian can help you find the best solution for your missing tooth or teeth. During your consultation, Dr. Mike will evaluate the health of your teeth and bones. He will also take detailed, real-time measurements of your bite force at every point along your dental arch. This will give him a good idea of the amount of force your dental bridge will have to take. With these measurements, he will know whether it’s a good idea to link a dental implant with a natural tooth in a dental bridge. 

If you are looking for an implant dentist in Columbus who can perform dental implant procedures, please call (614) 848-5001 for an appointment at Firouzian Dentistry, located in the Crosswoods neighborhood of Columbus.