Dental Implants Versus Dental Bridges
If you are missing a tooth or teeth, the two most common treatment options are dental implants or dental bridges. A dental bridge replaces missing teeth by placing abutments over healthy teeth flanking the gap of the missing tooth. There are several different bridge types, but most are made from zirconia or porcelain, and the crown is generally made from porcelain, gold, or metal alloys.
While both treatment options are an effective approach for correcting missing teeth, there are important differences to be aware of when determining which one is right for you. If you are currently debating between dental implants or dental bridges, you will want to consider the following:
- Maintenance: One of the biggest differences between dental implants and dental bridges is that dental implants can be cared for just like your regular teeth. Because dental bridges require at least three crowns to be connected, brushing and flossing is more difficult which can lead to increased risk of cavities or bone loss on the connecting teeth.
- Durability: Dental implants provided a stronger, more durable solution compared to dental bridges. Dental implants are also resistant to decay and can last a lifetime if cared for properly. Dental bridges, on the other hand, typically need to be replaced every 7-10 years or so. Additionally, because part of your natural tooth still remains, your tooth structure will remain susceptible to gum disease and decay.
- Procedural steps: Prior to placing the dental bridge, it will be necessary to grind down the neighboring teeth by removing enamel in order to fabricate the bridge. Dental implants will require multiple appointments that may involve placement of a dental bone graft if enough jawbone has been lost, followed by the placement of a titanium post in your jawbone. Once placed, it will take several months for the post and your natural jawbone to fuse together, after which the replacement crown can be placed.
- Cost: One of the benefits of dental bridges is that they are slightly less expensive than dental implants, although this cost difference is impacted by the fact that dental bridges will more likely need to be replaced, which may result in total costs being more over a period of time. Additionally, because the dental implant process takes places over several months, it is possible to cover certain procedures using dental insurance plans and pay for parts of the procedure over time.
- Aesthetics: Dental implants generally look better and more natural than dental bridges, but these differences are slight and are more likely to be noticed by the individual with the implant or dental bridge than by others.
Hopefully this overview has helped you better understand the differences between dental implants and dental bridges to help you determine which treatment option is right for you. If you have any additional questions or would like an informed opinion about available treatment options, schedule an appointment with your dentist or periodontist, who can offer their professional opinion and answer any additional questions you might have.