Dental Implants vs. Bridges: Which is Better?

If you have lost one or more teeth, you are not alone - at least 69 percent of adults ages 35 to 44 in the United States have lost at least one tooth. By the time they are 74-years-old, about a quarter of all American adults have lost all their teeth. 

Many people choose to replace their missing teeth with dental bridges, but a growing number are opting for dental implants. Each tooth replacement option is a viable solution to missing teeth, with its own advantages and drawback. So which is right for you?

It depends largely on your personal needs, budget, and time. Your dentist in can help you decide whether dental implants or bridges are best for you. 

Why Replace a Missing Tooth?

Losing a tooth does more than just ruin your appealing smile - teeth on either side of the missing tooth can drift into the gap the lost tooth leaves behind, and this can lead to crooked teeth. A lost tooth can make it hard to eat or speak properly.

A missing tooth can also cause you to lose jawbone. Chewing food applies pressure to your teeth, and this pressure transfers down the tooth into the tooth’s root, and then into your jawbone. This pressure stimulates the growth of new, strong bone tissue that holds your teeth in place. Without the tooth to create pressure, the jawbone beneath weakens and can potentially lose its grip on teeth. Changes to the jawbone can also change the shape of your face.

Dental Implants and Bridges for Replacing Missing Teeth

There have been a number of technological advancements in the world of dental implants. Dental bridges and dental implants are two of the most common options for replacing missing teeth. While the two might seem similar at first glance, they are actually quite different. 

Both a dental bridge and a dental implant hold an artificial crown, for example. This artificial crown looks just like a tooth’s natural crown, which is the visible part of the tooth that appears above the gum line. A dental bridge and a dental implant support the artificial crown in different ways. For more information on bridges, you can learn more here.

What is a dental bridge?

A dental bridge is a false tooth held in place by the abutment teeth, which are the teeth on each side of the missing tooth. As their name implies, dental bridges “bridge the gap” created by missing teeth. Made from porcelain or very strong plastic, tooth bridges can replace one or several missing teeth. 

A dental bridge requires at least two dental appointments after your initial consultation. During the first appointment, your dentist will prepare the two abutment teeth that will hold the dental bridge. Your dentist will remove a small amount of enamel from the abutment teeth to make enough room in your mouth to hold the dental bridge. 

Next, your dentist will take impression of your mouth and teeth to send to a dental laboratory, where a highly trained technician will make a dental bridge that matches the size, shape, and color of the rest of your teeth.

When your dental bridge is ready, you will return to our office. Your dentist will ensure that your dental bridge is a perfect fit before permanently cementing it into place. 

Benefits of a dental bridge:

  • Usually covered by insurance
  • Requires no invasive surgery or bone grafting
  • Typically costs less than dental implants – dental bridges cost anywhere from about $2,000 and to more than $5,000, while a dental implant cost is about $5,000
  • Usually requires just two visits to your dentist over the course of a couple of weeks

Disadvantages of a dental bridge:

  • Usually needs replacing every 5 to 7 years, although some may last more than 10 years
  • May lose its natural-looking appearance over time
  • May be associated with more tooth decay and cavities in surrounding teeth than with dental implants
  • Requires preparation of the abutment teeth

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root. In other words, it is a metal post that your dentist places into your jaw. Usually made from titanium, this screw-shaped implant provides sturdy support for the dental crown. 

After your dentist places the dental implant into your jaw, your jawbone will fuse with the metal post in a process known as osseointegration. While this process takes several weeks, osseointegration creates a permanent anchor that should last a lifetime. 

Once osseointegration is complete, your dentist will provide a custom-made crown that attaches to the dental implant. With proper care, the crown will last for many years. If you are missing two or three adjacent teeth, your dentist may recommend a fixed partial denture, which is like a dental implant crown that holds several fake teeth.

Advantages of dental implants:

  • The implants are permanent, and the crowns can last 15 years before needing replacing - which makes dental implants the longest-lasting option on the market
  • With proper care, dental implants keep their natural-looking appearance longer than do dental bridges
  • Implants do not damage the healthy teeth surrounding the implant
  • Easy care - simply brush and floss as normal
  • Very high success rate of around 97 percent

Drawbacks to dental implants:

  • Less likely to be covered by insurance
  • Lengthy process
  • Higher upfront cost

We Can’t Wait To Meet You

We look forward to meeting you. Call (614) 350-5300 or request an appointment online to set up your first visit. We’ll be in touch soon.

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