Dental Implants Versus Bridges Explained: Advantages, Costs, and More Factors to Consider

Dental implants vs. bridges

Dental Implants Versus Bridges Explained: Advantages, Costs, and More Factors to Consider

Dental treatment decisions can be intimidating. The investment in a permanent tooth replacement should come after careful research.

A dental implant and a dental bridge are the most common ways to replace a missing tooth. But how do you choose between the two?

Use this quick overview to get a better understanding of dental implants versus bridges.

What are Dental Bridges?

Dental bridges cover the gap caused by missing teeth. They use the natural teeth on either side of the gap as anchors to cover the space.

To prepare the adjacent tooth for the bridge, the dentist will need to file down the teeth on either side of the gap. Filing the teeth down allows the crown to fit over the adjacent teeth so they can function as support.

Dental bridges can span a space missing one or multiple teeth. To get the right fit for your crown, dentists take impressions of your teeth.

A dental technician will make the crown and bridge in the lab. You’ll receive a temporary bridge during your first visit to protect your exposed gums and teeth.

During your second visit, the temporary bridge is removed. The dentist tries the permanent bridge to ensure it fits correctly.

The dentist will cement the bridge permanently into place once it is the right shape and size.

How Long Will It Last?

A dental bridge lasts for around ten years depending on how it is cared for. The design of the bridge presents hygiene challenges.

It is basically three crowns stuck together in a row. To get your gums cleaned properly, your dentist will offer a more extensive oral hygiene routine.

Here are some ways to prolong the lifespan of the bridge:

  • Brush twice per day using toothpaste.
  • Buy toothpaste with silica which is also what dentists use.
  • Floss thoroughly under the bridge once daily and in between the rest of your teeth.
  • Schedule regular visits with your dentist to have your teeth professionally cleaned and inspected.
  • Eat more vegetables, fiber, and fruits. Avoid meat when possible.

Following this strict regimen will keep your gums in healthy condition and ensure you get the longest use out of your crown.

Unfortunately, a bridge is never permanent. It will fail over time.

Your dentist will track its progress and offer options to replace it when the time comes. Keeping the bridge too long can leave the area beneath the bridge vulnerable to tooth and gum disease.

Disadvantages to Dental Bridges

To get a dental bridge, you have to permanently alter the teeth surrounding the gap. The filing of the tooth enamel can’t be reversed.

For many people, the idea of altering perfectly healthy teeth isn’t a good option. They would rather focus on only the missing tooth.

Dental bridges are matched to the surrounding teeth closely, but not exactly. The bridge includes three or more crowns stuck together with no spaces in between.

This looks less natural than an implant that fits into the mouth with the same spacing as the surrounding teeth. The final look is more attractive and natural.

What Is a Dental Implant?

A person with a missing tooth can opt for an implant to fill the space. They are your best choice when you have periodontal disease or an injury that caused the missing tooth.

Dental implants replace the root of your tooth with a titanium post. The crown is surgically implemented onto the post.

The dental implant is then fused into your jawbone to anchor it into position. An abutment is attached to the post-frame causing it to protrude above your gum line.

The dental crown can now be screwed into the space provided. This entire procedure happens under sedation.

The dentist drills a tiny hole into your jawbone then screws the base of the crown into your bone. Any pieces of your gum that have been removed are placed back over the space so it can heal.

You’ll need to wait for the first surgery to heal properly before getting a second surgery to fit a connector.

How Long Do Implants Last?

Dental implants are more durable than a bridge. They can last a lifetime when you follow your dentist’s recommended oral hygiene routine.

Here are some ways to prolong the life of your dental implant:

  • Clean your teeth using a soft-bristled brush twice per day.
  • Avoid abrasive kinds of toothpaste.
  • Buy an oral irrigator to use daily.
  • Floss daily with unwaxed tape or floss made for implants.

This is why many dentists recommend implants over bridges. There is far less exposure of the gums to potential disease.

The remaining tooth under the bridge is vulnerable to decay which affects how long the bridge lasts.

The titanium metal screw beneath the crown isn’t vulnerable to decay or disease.

Disadvantages of Dental Implants

Dental implants are a type of surgery. With all surgery, there are risks of complications like nerve damage or infection.

Patients with heart disease or diabetes should talk to their dentists about the additional risks they face with a surgical procedure. The healing process is long between surgeries.

It can take three to six months to heal before the permanent implant can be installed.

Cost of Dental Implants Versus Bridges

The costs of dental implants versus bridges are drastically different. The amount you pay out of pocket varies based on your insurance, but the upfront cost of dental implants is more expensive than bridges.

Considering that a bridge won’t last much more than a decade, the cost of an implant is cheaper in the long term. Implants provide a more durable solution to missing teeth.

The price of your procedure will vary based on the current condition of your teeth. There are patients who replace bridges more often than once per decade.

For more information on implants or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office today.