Dental Implant vs Dental Bridge
Replacing teeth has come a long way. When there are missing teeth, whether by natural loss or extraction, there are understandable concerns about infection and overall oral health, and proper replacement is an essential aspect of maintaining or regaining a confident smile.
As you consider your options it’s important to understand what the differences are between a dental bridge and a dental implant? Often a dental implant can be an ideal solution, but various factors should be considered.
Practical Reasons for Implants and Bridges
Until fairly recently a dental bridge was the only option for replacing a missing tooth. In a bridge procedure the adjacent teeth also need to be prepared by removing a significant amount of enamel in order to make and place the bridge. In the case of dental implants, however, only the individual tooth is replaced for a result that is permanent and also stronger. A dental bridge might be the best option if the nearby teeth have big fillings and/or will be in need of crowns or caps at some point in the future. Also if a tooth (or teeth) has been missing for an extended time, receding of the gum and bone will have occurred which means that procedures beyond just an implant would be required before placement can happen. So it is important to discuss all advantages and all disadvantages to each procedure to find the best option for you.
Oral Care Routine Changes
It is generally easier to keep the mouth healthy with implants than with dental bridges.
Because dental bridges get "fixed" in the mouth, and also involve multiple crowns connected together, this design often causes challenges for flossing and brushing, so with bridges extra oral hygiene and care are essential. Meanwhile, because implants replace individual teeth without affecting the other nearby teeth, this often makes optimal home care easier to achieve. You can floss and brush around an implant just as floss and brush around your own teeth.
Generally, implants are considered more durable than dental bridges, and they often last a lifetime. A dental implant is typically constructed with titanium, and this material is biocompatible with your jawbone, and fuses naturally through the process known as osseointegration. Because titanium is such a strong metal, dental implants are typically highly resistant to decay. Dental bridges, on the other hand, are expected to last approximately 10 years. Because a small portion of the natural tooth remains beneath a dental bridge, normal wear can cause a bridge to fail in various ways more easily over time. And in general, the small remaining tooth structure will continue to be susceptible to gum disease and decay.
What about appearance? Because there are many factors in considering what’s best for each patient, your dentist or prosthodontist will be able to help decipher what you prefer. Often an implant can provide the most natural looking, an therefor pleasing result, because the final tooth can be made to closely resemble your natural enamel. And in some instances, a dental implant can be placed immediately following a tooth extraction, which then preserves a more natural level of bone, and can also improve the final appearance.
Dental Bridge vs. Implant: Costs
Initially the upfront cost of dental bridge is usually less, but because a dental bridge may need to be replaced in the future that should be taking in to consideration. Implants can seem more expensive initially, but in the long run can actually prove more cost-effective. Fortunately, recently some dental insurance providers are actually paying for at least some of the steps involved in the implant treatment. Implant treatments can also be more flexible, in terms of spacing out different parts of the total implant procedure which can allow patients to budget costs incrementally.
And ultimately when deciding if a dental bridge or a dental implant is best for you, consulting with your dentist is an important part of the final decision.