Your teeth are a key part of your everyday life, not just for eating and speaking but also for self-esteem. When one (or more than one) is missing due to injury or decay, it can have a huge impact on your confidence. Fortunately, there are two main options when it comes to replacing those missing teeth: dental implants and bridges.
We’ll discuss the advantages of each type and help you decide which option might be the best choice for you.
Should I Go For A Dental Implant Or Bridge?
When it comes to what's better - it's all about the right fit for you, your mouth, and your budget. The relationship between dental crowns and bridges can be confusing, so let’s clear it up: a dental implant replaces the root of an extracted tooth, while a crown and bridge replace the visible parts of a missing tooth.
A dental implant starts with a titanium post that acts as an artificial tooth root and is placed into your jawbone. The implant integrates with the bone to create a strong foundation for a replacement tooth, also known as a crown. If you’re missing one or more teeth, implants can provide an aesthetically pleasing solution that looks and functions like natural teeth.
On the other hand, bridges are prosthetic devices designed to fill gaps left by missing teeth. A bridge is typically made up of a framework with one or more false teeth, which are then connected to the surrounding natural teeth using crowns or wings. Bridges can be non-removable or removable bridges and are an effective way to replace multiple missing teeth.
Dental Bridge Vs. Implant: Comparison
There are a range of factors to take into consideration when deciding between a dental implant and a bridge. So to dive a little deeper, we'll break down the main differences between them.
If you’re concerned about the cost of the procedures, a bridge is usually more affordable than an implant. The price of a bridge will depend on the type and number of teeth being replaced, as well as the materials used. On the other hand, implants can be quite costly due to their complexity and need for multiple procedures.
Bridges are more cost-effective because they don’t require any surgery or special materials, whereas implants do. You can expect prices to range from $500 for a single-tooth bridge to up to $3,000 for a multi-unit bridge. Dental implant cost, on the other hand, can range from $1,500 to $6,000 or more for a single tooth.
Implant procedures can take months to complete, whereas bridges can be placed within a few weeks. This is because implants require multiple steps, such as the implant being surgically placed in the jawbone and then allowed to heal before the crown is attached. On the contrary, bridges can be created and installed relatively quickly with only one or two dental visits.
There are even dental clinics that offer same-day dental implants, where the implant is placed, and a temporary crown is attached in one appointment.
Implants usually provide better aesthetics and functionality. Because the implant goes through osseointegration, it integrates with the jawbone to create a strong foundation for the crown. The implant works as an artificial tooth root, which means that it can support a crown that looks and functions just like a natural tooth.
Bridges, on the other hand, rely on surrounding teeth for support and may not look or feel as natural.
In terms of durability, implants are the clear winner. Implant screws are designed to last a lifetime if taken care of properly, whereas the crown will likely need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years.
When it comes to appearance, both implants and bridges can provide a natural-looking result. However, because implants are designed to look and function just like natural teeth, they typically offer better aesthetics than bridges.
Implants reign supreme when it comes to naturality. As mentioned above, implants are designed to look and feel like natural teeth. On the other hand, bridges can look and feel artificial due to the fact that they are attached to surrounding teeth.
In regard to the procedure, a bridge is typically more comfortable to place than an implant because the bridge does not require surgical procedures. Additionally, a bridge can be easily adjusted if needed and is less likely to cause pain or discomfort over time.
After the procedure, you’ll be able to eat normally 24 hours after getting a dental bridge (avoiding any overly hot, cold, hard, or sticky foods). Following dental surgery, though, you’ll need to follow a guide on what to eat after dental implants for a couple of weeks.
But if we’re talking about long-term comfort and stability, implants are considered to be the better option. Implants mimic natural teeth and provide a more secure fit than bridges as they are fitted more permanently into the bone.
Both implants and bridges are considered safe if fitted by a dental professional. Of course, they each have their own complications - bridges can cause problems with surrounding teeth if they are not carefully fitted, and they may be complications in surgery for implants.
But if we’re talking about success rate, dental implants have a higher success rate than bridges longer-term, at 95% to 98% for 40 to 50 years. Bridges also last long, but unlike implants, the success rate for bridges decreases at a steady rate after 10 years.
As mentioned previously, implants more closely resemble natural teeth. Implants can also help preserve jawbone health by stimulating bone growth and preventing further deterioration. Bridges are still a viable option for replacing missing teeth, but they don’t provide the same level of function as implants.
The procedures for having a bridge and an implant are very different. Bridges require two appointments, one to prepare the teeth on either side of the gap and another to fit the bridge. Implants require multiple procedures spread over several months. The first step is placing the titanium post into your jawbone; then, you will need to wait for it to heal before having a crown fitted onto it.
Dental Bridge Pros And Cons
Bridges are an affordable and effective way to replace missing teeth. They can be made from several different materials, including porcelain, metal alloys, and gold. In addition, bridges don’t require surgery or the lengthy healing process associated with dental implants.
On the downside, bridges can cause adjacent healthy teeth to become weakened over time due to the extra stress placed on them by the bridge framework. As well, because they sit on top of your gums (instead of being inserted into your jawbone like an implant), bridges can be prone to shifting and becoming loose.
Bridges are more suitable for:
- Replacing multiple missing teeth
- People with healthy gums and adjacent teeth
- Those who may not be suitable for dental implants due to medical reasons or financial constraints
- Those who don’t want major dental surgery
Dental Implants Pros And Cons
Dental implants are a long-term, permanent solution for missing teeth and can last for decades with proper care. The implant itself is titanium, so it’s extremely strong and durable. In addition, the placement of an implant helps to stimulate your jawbone, which prevents bone loss that can occur when a tooth is missing.
The flipside of dental implants is that they require minor surgery to place them in your jawbone, as well as several months of healing time before you can get your replacement tooth. They’re also typically more expensive than bridges, so they may not be an option for everyone.
Implants are more suitable for:
- Replacing one or more missing teeth
- People who have healthy gums and enough jaw bone density to support the implant
- Those looking for a long-term, permanent solution
Interested to learn more about dental implants and dental bridges? Read on for answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions:
What Is Less painful, A Bridge Or An Implant?
As pain is subjective, there’s a chance for either bridges and implants to be more or less painful for different patients. For instance, dental implants can require surgery and a long healing process in order to be successfully placed into the jawbone. Bridges only need two or three visits to the dentist to complete and require much less preparation.
The pain from dental implants or bridges can be managed through local anesthesia, so the amount experienced should not be a major factor in your decision between implants and bridges.
Is Dental Bridging Better Than An Implant?
Whether dental bridging or implants are better for you really depends on your situation and the advice of your dentist. Implants tend to be more than bridges, but they can last a lifetime with proper care. Bridges, on the other hand, are typically cheaper but may need to be replaced after about 10 years due to wear and tear.
Implants also look and feel like natural teeth since they replace both the root and crown of the missing tooth. Bridges, on the other hand, only replace the crown and rely on nearby teeth for support.
Why Would A Doctor Prefer A Bridge Over An Implant?
In some cases, a dentist may prefer to use a bridge rather than an implant. The decision is often due to the fact that bridges are generally considered less invasive and require fewer visits to complete. If a patient’s jawbone is not strong enough for implants or if there isn’t enough room in their mouth for them, then bridges may be the best option.
Other reasons why a dentist might opt for a bridge instead of an implant include the cost, the amount of time it takes to complete, and the fact that bridges can be used to replace multiple teeth at once.
Do Bridges Last Longer Than Implants?
No, implant screws can last a lifetime with proper care (although the crown will need to be replaced after 10 to 15 years), while bridges may need to be replaced after about 10 years due to wear and tear. It’s shown that after those 10 years, the success rate of the bridge steadily declines.
Are Dental Bridges Safer Than Implants?
Both dental bridges and implants are considered safe procedures, but there can be risks associated with both. For instance, implants can cause damage to the surrounding teeth or gums if not properly placed. Bridges, on the other hand, can fail due to wear and tear over time. Ultimately, both options are safe when done by an experienced dentist who takes all necessary precautions.
Are Bridges And implants Covered By Insurance?
As both bridges and implants are considered restorative treatments, most health insurance policies will cover them to some degree. The exact coverage will depend on your plan and may also be subject to a deductible or co-pay. It’s important to check with your insurance company before having any dental work done in order to understand what is and isn’t covered.
How Do You Know If You Need A Dental Bridge Or Implant?
Both bridges and implants are used to replace missing teeth. Your dentist will be able to recommend an option that’s best for your individual case. They’ll consider factors such as the number of missing teeth, their location, your oral health and medical history, and overall budget.
If you qualify for both options - the world is your oyster! It all comes down to your preferences and which option you feel most comfortable with.