Simply put, choosing between dental procedures is a daunting task. When choosing between a dental implant or a dental bridge, it’s important to get an opinion from a professional. Visit your dental clinic to ensure you’re making the choice that’s best for you.
Each option has its pros, cons, and costs. First, let’s make sure you know what each procedure is.
What Is a Dental Bridge?
As the name suggests, a dental bridge “bridges” the gap between one or more missing teeth. This bridge is supported by implants or natural teeth on either side, surrounding one or more crowns. These anchoring teeth are called abutment teeth. The false teeth that rest in between are called pontics. They are secured by the dental bridge.
While this is the general definition of a dental bridge, there are three distinct types.
Traditional Fixed Bridges
Traditional fixed bridges are the most common type of dental bridge. In these cases, traditional fixed bridges create a filler tooth supported by crowns, which is then placed over healthy teeth on either side of the gap.
Made of porcelain fused to either ceramics or metal, this type of bridge replaces missing teeth in-between healthy ones. The healthy teeth must be reshaped and fitted with crowns to ensure that the bridge is properly supported.
When there are teeth directly next to the missing tooth, a dentist will install a Cantilever bridge. This means that only one side can support the bridge, not two.
While a traditional fixed bridge requires two healthy teeth for support, a cantilever only requires one. This bridge is typically used when dentists only need to replace a single missing tooth.
Maryland Bonded Bridges
With this type, the bridge is made of porcelain fused to metal. The existing teeth on either side of the gap are affixed to metal or porcelain “wings” on the bridge.
Pros and Cons of Choosing a Dental Bridge
Pros of Dental Bridges
- No Removal Is Required
In contrast to removable dentures, fixed bridges are designed to be exactly that: fixed. You can resume your oral hygiene routine without disrupting any of the work that has been done, and you don’t need to remove your teeth when visiting a dentist for a cleaning or other dental procedures.
- They Are Built to Last
If kept clean, dental bridges last between five and fifteen years. They can withstand anything that natural and healthy teeth can. As a result, you are free to live your life without fear of damage or expensive repairs.
Dental bridges can be a better option for someone on a budget. Dental bridges are sturdy and natural-looking, all while costing less than dental implants.
Cons of Dental Bridges
- Replacement is Needed
While dental bridges are a durable and natural option, they need to be replaced every decade or so. This might not matter for certain patients, but replacing your dental bridge every ten years is a burden to some.
A more expensive procedure that only has to be done once might be a better fit if you don’t have the time or finances to revisit the procedure.
- Adjusting Your Clean
With a dental bridge, the Pontic and crowns are fused. Because of this, you need to adopt new techniques to clean the bridge, since regular flossing is not an option. It is possible to keep your teeth clean, but you will have to adopt new methods to do so.
- Harming Healthy Teeth
The dental bridge procedure requires that the surrounding, healthy teeth are modified to fit the bridge. Grinding down on these teeth doesn’t cause long-term damage, but this still might be a concern for some patients.
What Is a Dental Implant?
Moving on from dental bridges: dental implants are another solution for tooth issues.
Dental implants are replacement roots that sit inside your gum. These provide a strong base for either removable or permanent replacement teeth.
Dental implants are a common solution for patients who suffer from tooth loss due to:
- Periodontal Disease
- Accidental Injury
Unlike dental bridges, dental implants are a more comprehensive dental procedure. An implant is a solution when dentures or dental bridges aren’t feasible options. When this is the case, it’s often because the natural teeth roots aren’t healthy enough to build a new structure.
Pros and Cons of Choosing Dental Implants
Much like dental bridges, dental implants offer pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Choosing Implants
Compared to other options like dentures or a dental bridge, implants are by far the most durable. The implants are fused directly to your jaw bone, which ensures that they’re stable and durable. If taken good care of, they function as a normal set of teeth.
Because implants are fused directly to your jaw, they look and feel like real teeth. After the procedure, you can live your life normally with a full set of healthy teeth. No one will know that you’ve had a procedure done.
- A Permanent Solution
Implants can be a one-and-done procedure. Dental bridges only have a life expectancy of five to fifteen years, but dental implants can be a definitive solution if you’re looking for a one-time procedure.
Cons of Choosing Implants
- A Longer Process
Getting implants fitted can take on average 12-16 weeks of healing, compared to 1-2 weeks for a dental bridge.
Dental implants are more expensive than dental bridges in the short term, though costs are much less over the lifetime of the implant compared to a bridge.
- Additional Procedures
In certain cases, dental implants might require additional procedures. Your dentist may have to do a bone graft if you don’t have enough bone to support the implant. A sinus lift is also a possibility if a patient’s sinuses are located too close to the jawbone.
So, Which Is the Better Option?
When considering these options, you need to choose what’s best for you and your situation. What’s the right choice for you might not be what’s right for someone else.
Remember these pros and cons and always ask your dentist for their opinion!