Dental bridges and dental implants are used for the same purpose: to replace lost teeth. Yet, they are very different in many ways. If you are thinking about replacing a missing tooth, you will need to sit down with your dentist and review your options before deciding whether a bridge or an implant is best for you. Orange County Dentist Dr. Tammy Tran would be happy to discuss these options with you. The short explanation below of the advantages and disadvantages of both, along with the illustrations, is intended to give you some basic information and understanding of both procedures before you meet with Dr. Tran.
A dental bridge replacing a missing tooth involves three teeth—the missing tooth, and the two adjacent teeth. Crowns are placed on the adjacent teeth. Then the bridge is constructed as one piece in the laboratory, with the false tooth suspended between the two crowns.
Main Advantage of a Dental Bridge
Having a dental bridge placed in your mouth usually is faster and easier then a dental implant. Bridges can be installed in two appointments, perhaps a week or two apart, while a dental implant usually will require several months of healing before the procedure can be completed.
A dental implant doesn't involve doing anything to the adjacent teeth. A root form fixture is implanted in the bone, and then the bone is allowed to heal. After the bone has grown back, it anchors the root form. A single crown is then placed to replace the missing tooth.[/caption]
Main Advantage of a Dental Implant
A bridge involves placing crowns on teeth on either side of the one that is missing. The main advantage of a dental implant is that work needs to be done only on the tooth that is missing. A dental implant avoids involving the teeth on either side, and this is the main advantage. There are other advantages and disadvantages to each procedure, as explained below.
Pros and Cons of Bridges Vs Implants
- Both a bridge and implant will look natural and give you many years of service. Once installed no one will know that you had a missing tooth replaced.
- The cost of dental bridges may be slightly less than cost for implants.
- A bridge will place more stress on the teeth it rests on.
- The presence of an implant inhibits the loss of jaw bone. If the tooth that is missing is a front tooth and you have a high lip line so that your gums show, this loss of bone can cause a sunken-in appearance.
- In most cases a dental implant is easier to maintain. You will be able to floss around it without a bridge threader or other specialized tool.
- The risk of problems is greater for a dental bridge. For example, you might need to replace a bridge entirely if decay sets in on an adjacent tooth. With an implant only the affected tooth will need to be repaired.
- Dental implants can be used to replace multiple teeth, even a full set of dentures by using multiple posts and attaching the denture in several places.
Are Dental Implants Right for You?
The best candidates for dental implants have strong healthy gums and enough bone to accommodate the titanium post. Where bone loss may be significant, implants might still be possible after some bone grafting is done. A bridge may be a better choice in some cases because of overall medical history. Heart conditions, diabetes, or other health problems may make implant procedures risky or limit the chances of a successful procedure. If the teeth on either side of the missing tooth otherwise need crowns anyway, a bridge may be the most sensible choice. If you have a missing tooth and would like to discuss if a bridge or implant is best for you, call Dr. Tran at (714)-979-3710 or visit her Make an Appointment to Fountain Valley dental clinic page.