Bridges Vs. dental implants

Losing a tooth is a game changer. Not only does it impair the masticatory function, but it also affects the esthetics, speech, and self-esteem. In addition to that, it has an impact on the neighboring teeth.

When left replaced, the tooth adjacent to the edentulous area teeth tilts in the space. The tilting will affect their periodontal health and cause limitation of the edentulous space that makes it harder to replace the missing tooth.

Treatment options to replace a missing tooth include bridges or dental implants. There are multiple differences between bridges and dental implants. The following blog will highlight the difference between both procedures, the pros and cons of each one, and some factors that may help you how to choose.

Bridges Vs. Dental implants: what is the difference

 A bridge is a dental prosthetic used to replace the crown of the missing tooth. The technique involves tooth structure reduction from the neighboring teeth (abutment) to create room for the bridge. An impression is taken, then the bridge is constructed and cemented on the abutment. The constructed bridge consists of attached units that involve crowns that cover the abutment teeth and a pontic (the replaced tooth).

 On the other hand, a dental implant replaces the root and crown of the missing tooth. The surgical procedure for implant insertion is through drilling in the jaw bone and then inserting a specially designed root of biocompatible material. The implant support counts on the osteointegration or bone growth around the implant. A crown is then attached to the implant without touching the neighboring teeth.

Pros and cons of bridges

A bridge is usually constructed from a gold base covered by a porcelain layer matching your teeth color. These are the advantages and disadvantages of a dental bridge:

Pros of bridges:

  • Lower cost.
  • Short timeline when compared to dental implants (2 visits).
  • No need for invasive surgery.
  • Covered by dental insurance.

Cons of bridges:

  • It is considered a less conservative procedure because of the reduction of the neighboring teeth.
  • Possibility for the development of caries around the margins of the abutment.
  • Gingival inflammation because of the difficulty in cleaning around and below the pontic.
  • Need replacement after some time (mean life span around ten years).

Pros and cons of dental implants

Dental implants are gaining popularity as a treatment option to treat missing tooth or teeth. As with any treatment option, it comes with upsides and drawbacks.

Pros of dental implant:

  • Conservation of tooth structure as it does not require reduction of the neighboring teeth.
  • Offers a more natural appearance compared to bridges.
  • Easier in cleaning and maintenance.
  • With proper care, it may last for a lifetime, with no need for replacement.
  • Very high success rate.

Cons of dental implant:

  • Requires a more extensive surgery that involves drilling in bone and sometimes flap raise and bone graft.
  • Like any other surgery, it involves risks, such as infection, bleeding, and nerve damage.
  • Need skilled professionals to avoid improper placement.
  • An extended procedure that requires multiple visits compared to bridges.
  • Requires more extended healing time after surgery.
  • More expensive.
  • Less likely to be covered by insurance.

Bridges Vs. Dental implants: how to choose

Replacing a missing tooth comprises restoring the function and esthetics. The time between the tooth extraction and replacement has an impact. The longer the time, the more changes influence the treatment decision. Both bridge and dental implants are good choices to replace missing teeth, and both have edges that make one more favored for a higher success rate. Thus, multiple factors hang in the balance when deciding between both treatments. These factors include:

1. Treatment expectations:

Implants offer a more natural appearance than bridges. Dental implants emerge from the bone as natural teeth do, as they are individual restorations and not connected to the neighboring teeth.

When the missing tooth falls in the smile region, implants are a preferred option.

2. Cost:

Dental implants are much costlier than bridges. Moreover, insurance is less likely to cover dental implants. But remember that the implants do not require replacement, while bridges require replacement after several years.

So, your financial conditions play a crucial role in deciding between bridges and dental implants.

3. Time elapsed between the extraction and replacement:

The longer the time between extraction and treatment, the more dramatic changes arise. Neighboring teeth tilting and bone resorption are the main drawbacks of tooth extraction.

The neighboring teeth tilting will decrease the space available for restoration, so correction of these teeth’ position is required. This correction may be through orthodontic treatment or reduction and crown placement. If the orthodontic treatment is opted for, implants can be used. If reduction and crown placement are selected, a bridge will be more appropriate as tooth reduction will eventually occur.

If bone resorption occurs, an additional step during implant placement is required to add a bone graft around the implant, especially in the esthetic region. In the case of posterior teeth, a bridge can be used to avoid a more complex procedure of bone grafting.

4. Condition of adjacent teeth:

When the adjacent teeth are healthy, an implant will be more favored to avoid cutting in healthy teeth.

If the adjacent teeth have a large restoration or need a crown, a bridge will be a better option to cover these teeth and replace the missing tooth in one step.

5. Overall health:

Some medical conditions may limit the use of implants. Uncontrolled diabetes and patients with bleeding tendencies are contraindicated for surgical procedures to avoid delayed healing and excessive bleeding.

No medical condition contraindicates the use of a bridge.

Choosing between a bridge and a dental implant is not easy. Multiple factors may guide you to favor one option over the other. When deciding on the best treatment choice, you should not be only influenced by your expectations. Our professional team at Dulwich Dental Office will help you through your decision by adding their professional opinion after a careful assessment of your condition and having a conversation about your needs and expectations to choose the best option for you.

Dulwich Dental Office has one of the UK’s leading dental implant teams with patients coming from all over the United Kingdom to our flagship clinic.