If you have a damaged tooth that's in need of repair, you may be wondering whether you should get a crown, an implant, or a bridge. The truth is that these are all very similar solutions to your problems, but your individual situation could make one solution a better option.

Crowns: The Best Option for Preserving Existing Material

If you have enough tooth material left, a crown can be an option. With a crown, most of the visible tooth will be removed, but the underlying tooth will still be left under the gum line. The tooth will then be reconstructed in a material like ceramic, so it looks like new.

Whenever the root system of a tooth is relatively healthy, a crown is usually the best option. The roots themselves may be removed through the process of a root canal (so the tooth does not feel any pain), but the physical structure of the tooth will remain.

For young patients in particular, a crown is almost always ideal. By preserving as much of the tooth as possible, the dentist can mitigate the possibility of a lot of additional damage later on. Natural tooth material almost always lasts much longer than synthetic, though of course synthetic material can also be replaced.

Implants: The Best Option for Replacing a Whole Tooth

Sometimes a tooth does not have enough material to save. In this situation, the tooth has to be removed completely. There are two options from here: either an implant or a bridge. An implant is almost always preferred.

Implants are screwed through the gum and the bone of the jaw, making them as strong as regular teeth. Because the implants are placed on a post, they are durable and they are long-lasting.

An implant will prevent other teeth from drifting, which can happen over time. When teeth drift, they can ruin a person's bite; a poor bite can cause additional wear on surrounding teeth and even lead to an eventual misalignment of the jaw.

But the downside to an implant is that they do tend to be the most expensive option. They require surgical procedures, such as drilling.

Bridges: The Best Option for Affordable Tooth Replacement

If you have a tooth or teeth removed, you may be able to replace them with a bridge. A bridge is a tooth implant that is not anchored into the jaw. Instead, the tooth is actually anchored on the surrounding teeth. Because they simply need to be anchored to the other teeth, they are generally more affordable and less invasive than an implant. 

But bridges do have downsides. Though they can sometimes be more affordable than other options, they can weaken the surrounding teeth. They put a lot of pressure on the surrounding teeth, and if a patient is fairly young, this pressure could eventually lead to some damage.

Bridges are more likely to experience issues than implants, and they may need to be maintained and replaced in the future. At the same time, they will still prevent some tooth drifting and will maintain a person's bite. 

Because the right solution for you is so highly dependent on the health of your teeth, it really needs a professional assessment. A professional will be able to look at the health of your current teeth and the health of your surrounding teeth and will give you advice on your best option. To get started today, contact the office of GregoryS. Rutherford, DDS, PA.