While missing teeth are nothing to be ashamed of, it’s only natural to want your smile to remain intact. Fortunately, there are several solutions available for replacing missing teeth. Two of the most common solutions are bridges and dental implants. If you’re having trouble understanding which solution is right for you, don’t worry! We’re here to help on Implants vs. bridges
What are the Differences Between Dental Implants vs. bridges?
While serving the same essential function of replacing missing teeth with natural-looking artificial teeth, there are a few important distinctions to make between implants and bridges.
Dental implants are artificial roots that are surgically implanted into your jaw bone. Commonly made of titanium, the portion of the dental implant which comes up past your gum line receives the artificial tooth crown and keeps it securely in place. Dental implants are permanent, but the crowns can be fixed or replaced with relative ease.
Due to the costly and time-consuming surgical procedure involved, dental implants aren’t a great choice for repairing multiple missing teeth. However, for those missing only one or two teeth, dental implants may be an ideal solution.
A dental bridge is a false tooth, or multiple false teeth, connecting (or “bridging”) a pair of dental crowns. These dental crowns fit over the teeth on either side of the missing tooth so that the false tooth fills in the gap.
Dental bridges are an efficient, minimally invasive, and cost-effective way of replacing multiple missing teeth at once.
Dental Implants Vs. Bridges: Pros and Cons
Both dental implants and bridges dramatically improve smiles by replacing missing teeth with natural-looking artificial teeth. However, neither solution comes without its pros and cons. To help you decide which solution is right for you, it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks that each has to offer.
Dental implants require a surgical procedure wherein your doctor will drill a small hole into your jawbone into which the implant is mounted. Once this procedure is complete, it will take several weeks for the tissue to heal and the implant to fuse with the bone, at which point the artificial crown can be inserted. Dental implants have a 97% 10-year success rate and are known to last up to 15 years before any replacements or repairs are needed.
However, to ensure a dental implant procedure is successful, a jawbone of sufficient width and strength is necessary. A jawbone that is too narrow or weak to support an implant greatly increases the risk of the implant failing. If, after your initial consultation, your doctor determines that your jawbone is too narrow, a bone graft will be required. If this is the case, the entire procedure may take as long as six months and end up costing you quite a bit.
- Lasts up to 15 years
- 97% success rate
- Natural appearance
- Strong and resilient
- Potentially costly
- Could lead to additional surgical procedures
While dental bridges also require multiple dental visits, the procedure is ultimately less invasive and more cost-effective than dental implants.
Before the dental bridge can be mounted, the teeth receiving the crowns must be prepared. This procedure required reshaping the teeth to accept the crowns and hold the bridge firmly in place. The doctor will then make an impression of your teeth, either electronically or with a mold. This impression is sent off to a laboratory, where technicians manufacture the dental bridge.
Once the bridge is finished and has been shipped back to the dentist’s office, your doctor will call you in for one last appointment to fit, adjust, and finally secure the bridge into place. The whole procedure shouldn’t require more than two trips.
Expect a high-quality bridge to last from five to seven years. After that point, bridges begin to lose their natural appearance.
Another issue with bridges is an increased risk of cavities or tooth decay in the surrounding teeth.
Pros of implants vs. bridges:
- Less invasive than implants
- Cheaper than implants
- Usually completed in two trips
- Loses natural appearance sooner than implants
- Increased risk of tooth decay
- Requires alterations of multiple teeth
- Need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years