Both dental bridges and implants are methods used for replacing teeth, but they each have specific qualities that could make one or the other a better fit for you. Do you think you need one of these procedures? Let’s look at the differences between dental bridges vs. implants, the pros and cons of each, and how to decide which is a better choice for you.
Dental Bridges vs. Implants
Dental bridges cover a few teeth where implants are used to replace a single tooth. Your dentist might recommend one or the other depending on your specific concerns, how much repair is needed, and your overall dental health. Dental bridges and implants are very different procedures and offer specific advantages over the other. Here’s what you can expect from dental bridges vs. implant procedures.
Dental bridges use existing teeth to bridge the gap of a missing one. Crowns are placed on either side on top of prepped and shaped teeth, and connected to a structure that holds a false tooth between them. The bridge is then cemented in as a whole unit, with the bridged section supported by each side.
Dental bridges are permanent prosthetics. You don’t have to take it out to clean it, but you do have to clean around and under it to keep the area free of bacteria.
Pros and Cons of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges are easy to attach. The simple procedure can generally be completed in one visit. Because it is less invasive, dental bridge procedures are usually more affordable than dental implants, and are covered by most dental insurance plans.
Typically, dental bridges won’t last as long as dental implants. This is because they aren’t as strong and lack the same foundational support. Due to natural wear, bridges put more stress on surrounding teeth. Bridges are also not as natural-looking as an implant, and require more maintenance to keep them clean.
Implants are a more involved procedure, but offer a longer lasting solution than dental bridges. A dental implant is basically a metal post that anchors to the jaw itself. A crown is attached to the top of the post.
The procedure itself has three parts, which must all take place separately and allow for proper healing to occur between each stage. (1) The implant is connected to the jaw where it will fuse with the bone, a process called osseointegration; (2) the post is connected to the implant which protrudes above the gum line; and (3) a dental crown is attached and cemented to the post.
Pros and Cons of Dental Implants
Because they are fused directly to the bone, dental implants are very strong and stable. With their own built-in support system, they don’t put stress on surrounding teeth like dental bridges and can last a lifetime. An implant will also look and feel like a real tooth — and since they require such little maintenance beyond your normal dental hygiene routine, you might forget it’s not a natural part of your mouth.
The biggest drawbacks of dental implants are the time and cost. The multi-step procedure can take from 5 to 9 months to complete, depending on each patient’s rate of healing between stages. Because it does involve surgery, each patient must consider associated risks such as infection and nerve or other damage. Implant procedures are generally more expensive than bridges, and not always covered by insurance.
Dental Bridges vs. Implants: Which is Better For You?
Now that we understand the differences between dental bridges vs. implants, how do you know which is the better solution for you? Your choice will depend on — in addition to your dentist’s recommendations — several personal factors, including your dental insurance, available time you’re willing to commit, and what you’re looking for out of your dental procedure.
- Insurance: Are both procedures covered by your dental insurance? Often, bridges are covered under most plans, but not all plans cover implant procedures because they are more involved. Before you commit to a more expensive procedure, you’ll want to be informed about out-of-pocket costs.
- Time commitment: Implant procedures are more involved. They take more time, more appointments, and more recovery because they require surgery. Bridges are a more simple procedure that can usually be done in a single visit, depending on the amount of work you need done.
- Cost and Durability: Implants last longer than bridges in most cases; about 15 years or more as opposed to around 7 for bridges. Based on the severity of work needed and your dental health, the costs might be comparable, so you’ll need to decide whether durability will play a role in your decision.
You should talk over all of these factors with your dentist, and they can help you decide whether dental bridges vs. implants will give you the results you’re looking for, and match your situation.
Are you concerned that you might need either a bridge or an implant? Schedule an appointment with Creason, Weber & Mountford today! We’re happy to take a look, offer a consultation, and even get that procedure scheduled for you.