Dental Implant vs Bridge: Which Is Better For You?

BY: Dr. Sandeep Sharma
young female dentist in dental office talking with female patient and preparing for treatment.

Dental Implant vs Bridge: Which Is Better For You?

There is more to missing teeth than just aesthetic issues. It can also negatively impact your oral health. Gaps in your smile can cause a misalignment of your bite, leading to TMJ disorders, gum disease, and even tooth decay. Plus, it makes chewing and speaking more difficult.

If you are missing one or more teeth, prostheses or replacement teeth can help improve both function and appearance. Fortunately, there are many options to choose from. Two popular choices are dental implants and bridges. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so deciding which is better for you can be tough.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the differences between dental implants and bridges so that you can make an informed decision about your oral health. Let’s get started!

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are a long-term solution for those who have lost one or more teeth. The treatment plan involves placing a metal post in the jawbone and attaching a replacement tooth.

Dental implants are made of titanium, a metal well-tolerated by the human body. The main parts of an implant are:

  • The implant, which is a metal post or screw that is placed in the jawbone
  • The abutment, which is a connector piece that is placed on top of the implant
  • The prosthesis, which could be a crown, bridge or denture. This is the replacement tooth attached to the abutment.

There are three types of dental implants: endosteal, subperiosteal, and zygomatic.

  • Endosteal dental implants are placed in the jawbone.
  • Subperiosteal dental implants are placed on top of the jawbone, under the gum tissue.
  • Zygomatic implants are placed in the cheekbone.

Dental implants fuse with the jaw bone, creating a strong and stable foundation for replacement teeth.

dentist will show implant patient in hand in office or clinic

How Do Dental Implants Work?

Essentially, dental implants are replacements for tooth roots. These artificial tooth roots are embedded in the jaw bone, and replacement teeth called prostheses are placed on top of them.

The placement of dental implants is a multi-phase process that is usually completed over several months. The entire process is guided by your dentist’s treatment plan, designed to give you satisfying results. Using dental implants, you can enjoy the appearance and function of natural teeth again.

Advantages of Dental Implants

Dental implants are quickly becoming the preferred choice for replacing missing teeth. That’s because implants offer many advantages over other treatment options. Here are some of the advantages of choosing dental implants:

  • Dental implants look and function just like natural teeth.
    With other options, such as dentures, it’s often obvious that you have false teeth. But because dental implants are placed directly into the jawbone, it gives a more natural look allowing you to have a better smile.

  • Dental implants help preserve the jaw bone.
    When you lose a tooth, the bone begins to deteriorate because the roots that provide stimulation have already been removed. Since dental implants replace the roots, they help stimulate the jaw bone, preventing bone loss.

  • Dental implants are more durable than other tooth replacement options.
    Because they’re made from titanium, a very strong metal, dental implants can last a lifetime with proper care. Other options, such as bridges and dentures, usually last five to seven years before they need to be replaced.

If you’re considering tooth replacement options, ask your dentist about the advantages and disadvantages of dental implants.

Disadvantages of Dental Implants

Dental implants are a popular tooth replacement option, but they are not suited for everyone. There are several disadvantages to consider before deciding if dental implants are right for you.

  • Dental implants require surgery to be placed.
    Like other surgical procedures, implant placement has associated risks. However, these risks can be minimised by choosing an experienced dentist and following their instructions.

  • The treatment plan can be lengthy and expensive.
    The implant placement is fairly quick, but it can take several months to fuse with the jawbone. The healing period can be lengthy, and additional procedures may be needed if there are any complications.

  • Dental implants require regular care and maintenance, just like natural teeth.
    They must be brushed and flossed daily, and they should be checked by a dentist regularly. These checkups are important to make sure that the implant is still secured and that there are no problems with the surrounding teeth.

  • Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants.
    Patients with chronic medical conditions or who take certain medications may not be able to get dental implants. Additionally, people who have had radiation therapy to the head or neck area may not be able to get dental implants because of the risks involved.

If you are considering getting dental implants, it is important to weigh all advantages and disadvantages before making a decision.

What Are Dental Bridges?

A dental bridge is a fixed (non-removable) appliance that replaces missing teeth. It bridges the gap created by one or more missing teeth.

A dental bridge is made of two crowns with a false tooth or teeth in between called pontics. The bridge is attached to adjacent teeth, which will serve as abutments, providing support. A dental bridge will span the space where your tooth or teeth used to be.

Dental bridges are usually made of porcelain, metal, or a combination of the two. They can be matched to the colour of your remaining natural teeth.

How Do Dental Bridges Work?

Dental bridges are supported either by natural teeth or implants. When adjacent teeth are used as support, they are trimmed or reduced in size to make space for the crowns that will be placed on them.

In some cases, adjacent teeth may not be able to serve as support, and your dentist may recommend implants as abutments. An implant-supported bridge is more stable than a traditional dental bridge and doesn’t rely on adjacent natural teeth for support. However, getting implants requires surgery, and you need to wait a couple of months before you can have a dental bridge placed.

The decision about which type of abutment should be used in your bridge depends on several factors, including:

  • The number of missing teeth
  • The location of the missing tooth or teeth
  • The condition of adjacent teeth
  • How many adjacent natural teeth must be altered to support the dental bridge vs placement of one or more implants
  • Cost

Your dentist will assess these factors and work with you to develop the ideal treatment plan.

Dental bridges usually have a lifespan of about ten years, but with good oral hygiene practices, they may last much longer. Talk with your dentist about how often you should have your dental bridges checked and cleaned.

Advantages of Dental Bridges

There are many advantages of dental bridges, which is why dentists often recommend this treatment option. These include:

  • They can help prevent your adjacent teeth from shifting out of place.
    When you have a gap in your smile, the adjacent teeth can begin to move because nothing is blocking them from shifting. Dental bridges help keep your adjacent teeth in place and can even improve your bite by filling in the gap.

  • They are a cost-effective treatment option.
    Compared to other treatment options, such as implants, dental bridges are more affordable and can be completed in at least two visits to the dentist. Dental bridges are also a great option for people who want to avoid oral surgery.

  • They look natural and blend in with your existing teeth.
    Dental bridges are made from porcelain or ceramic materials that closely match the colour of your natural teeth. With proper care, your dental bridge can last for many years and will help you maintain a natural-looking smile.

  • They allow you to eat easily and speak confidently.
    Dental bridges fill the gap left by missing teeth making it easier to chew food, articulate words and smile confidently.

Dental bridges are an excellent way to restore your smile if you have missing teeth. There are many advantages of dental bridges, which is why dentists often recommend this dental treatment option.

Disadvantages of Dental Bridges

While dental bridges offer many benefits, there are also some disadvantages to consider before deciding if this is the right treatment for you.

Some disadvantages of dental bridges include the following:

  • Dental bridges require natural teeth to be altered.
    To place a dental bridge, the adjacent teeth must be filed down to create room for the restoration. This can weaken the teeth and make them more susceptible to decay or breakage.

  • Dental bridges rely on existing healthy teeth for support.
    As a result, they put extra stress on these adjacent teeth and may cause them to loosen over time if they’re not cared for.

  • Dental bridges are not as strong as natural teeth.
    While modern dental bridges are stronger than ever before, they are not as strong as your natural teeth. This means that you will need to take care when eating hard or crunchy foods to avoid damaging your dental bridge.

  • Dental bridges can be more difficult to clean than natural teeth.
    Because dental bridges span multiple teeth, they can be more difficult to keep clean than your natural teeth. Plaque and bacteria can easily become trapped around and under the bridge, leading to decay or gum disease.

  • Dental bridges can cause problems with your bite.
    If your dental bridge is not fitted properly, it can cause your teeth to bite down unevenly. This can lead to jaw pain, headaches, and even TMJ disorders.

If you are considering dental bridges, discuss the potential risks and disadvantages with your dentist to make an informed decision about your treatment plan.

root canal treatment

Which Is Better for Me?

When deciding which is better for you, dental implants or dental bridges, it is important to consider a few key factors.

Tooth implants are a longer-lasting solution, and they are surgically inserted into the jawbone. Dental bridges, on the other hand, are less invasive and use nearby teeth for support.

In terms of cost, dental implants are more expensive than dental bridges. However, dental implants can last a lifetime with proper care, while dental bridges usually need to be replaced every 7-10 years.

Ultimately, the ideal solution for you depends on your needs and preferences. If you want a longer-lasting solution that may be slightly more expensive upfront, dental implants may be the right choice for you. Dental bridges may be better if you prefer a less invasive procedure and a more affordable solution.

Talk to your dentist to learn more about which procedure is right for you.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been told that you need teeth replacement because of tooth loss, it can be hard to know which option is better for you. While dental implants and dental bridges are popular options, both procedures have their pros and cons. In the end, the suitable choice for you depends on your situation.

Clear Choice Dental can help you make an informed decision about which procedure is right for you. We provide comprehensive consultations so that you can discuss your needs with one of our experienced dentists and get your questions answered. Please book an appointment online or call us today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Dental implants are one of the most effective ways to replace missing teeth, but they can also be expensive. There are several reasons for this.

  • They require a surgical procedure to place the titanium posts in the jawbone. An oral surgeon or periodontist usually does the implant surgery, which can be costly.
  • They require a custom-made dental crown, bridge, or denture to be placed on top of the posts. This restoration can also be expensive, depending on the materials used and the number of teeth being replaced.
  • The dental lab that fabricates the implant must have special training and equipment.

The dental implant procedure involves several steps, which are as follows:

  1. Initial Consultation:
    During this time, you will discuss your treatment goals and any concerns about the procedure. Your dentist will examine your mouth, teeth, and gums to determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants. X-rays and CBCT scans may be taken to get a better look at your mouth, teeth, and jawbone.

  2. Preparation:
    If you are determined to be a good candidate for dental implants, the next step is to have the treatment. However, your dentist may require additional procedures such as tooth extraction, sinus lifts, gum grafts, or bone grafting. These are usually done during this stage.

  3. Implant Placement:
    The titanium post is surgically placed into the jawbone at this stage. This is done through a small incision in the gum. Once the post is in place, the incision is closed with sutures.

  4. Osseointegration:
    The next step is osseointegration, when the bone fuses to the titanium post. This usually takes several months. During this time, the post acts as a stabilising anchor for the new tooth.

  5. Abutment Placement:
    The next step is placing the abutment, a small connector piece. This is done through another small incision in the gum. The abutment attaches to the titanium post and supports the new tooth.

  6. Dental Prosthesis Placement:
    The new tooth (the crown, denture, or bridge) is placed on top of the abutment. These are made to match your natural teeth in colour and shape.

You will likely need to visit your dentist several times during the dental implant procedure so that they can check on your progress and make sure that everything is healing correctly.                                                                

Here are five tips for keeping your dental implants healthy and attractive:

  1. Brush and floss your dental implants just as you would your natural teeth. This will help to remove plaque and bacteria, which can cause inflammation and infection.

  2. Quit smoking. Smoking is bad for dental implants, increasing the risk of implant failure and infection. If you currently smoke, you should quit to prolong the lifespan of you implant.

  3. See your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups. These appointments will help ensure that your dental implants are in good condition and allow your dentist to address any problems early on.

  4. Avoid hard foods. Biting into hard foods can damage dental implants, so it’s important to avoid them altogether. Instead, stick to softer foods that are easier on the implant.

  5. Be careful with your mouthwashes. Some mouthwashes contain alcohol, which can dry out the mucous membranes in your mouth and make it more difficult for dental implants to heal properly after surgery. If you’re using a mouthwash, be sure to choose one that is alcohol-free.

Certain qualifications must be met for the procedure to be successful:

  • You have lost or missing teeth due to an injury, periodontal disease, or tooth decay.

  • You must have healthy gums and enough bone to support the implant. If you have gum disease or your bones are too soft, the implant will not be able to fuse properly and will eventually fail, and a gum and bone graft will be required.

  • You must be committed to oral hygiene. Dental implants require meticulous care, and if you do not brush and floss regularly, the implant will become infected and fail.

  • You must be willing to undergo surgery. The implant placement procedure is an invasive surgery and requires a period of recovery.

  • You must be willing to wait. The implant placement procedure is a two-step process; it can take up to six months for the implant to fuse with your bone.
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