For decades, there was only one solution for patients who were missing a tooth: a dental bridge. In recent years, dental implants have grown in popularity as a tooth replacement option. Dentists and oral surgeons recommend dental implants because they're the closest to natural teeth, but they're not an option for everyone.
Here’s what you should consider when choosing between dental implants and a traditional bridge.
The Benefits of Dental Bridges
There are several types of dental bridges, but in general, a bridge involves two supports, also known as abutments, that are joined together by one or more pontics, or replacement teeth. The abutments of a traditional bridge are dental crowns that are attached to the two teeth on either side of the gap in your smile. A Maryland bridge, which involves cementing a metal or porcelain framework onto the abutment teeth, is another potential solution. It is less expensive than a traditional bridge, but it is more prone to failure. A cantilever bridge is used when only one tooth is available to use as an abutment.
The benefits of dental bridges include:
- They are less expensive than dental implants and more readily covered by dental insurance.
- Getting a dental bridge is less invasive and requires fewer trips to the dentist.
- When bone loss or health complications make dental implants high risk, bridges are a safer alternative.
- Dental bridges don't require bone grafting or other preliminary work.
- There's no risk of infection.
The Benefits of Dental Implants
Why do dentists recommend dental implants over bridges and dentures? Because implants are the only choice that replaces both the root and the crown of a tooth. This is important because, unlike a dental bridge, an implant-based restoration prevents bone loss in the jaw and provides greater stability. Dental implants can be used to replace every tooth in your mouth or as little as a single tooth.
An implant-supported bridge is an economical solution for patients who have a span of three or more missing teeth. This hybrid option uses dental implants to replace the two outermost missing teeth. The implants serve as abutments to hold a bridge in place. This provides greater stability and strength than a bridge held in place by crowns, but it is less expensive than replacing each missing tooth with its own dental implant and restoration.
The benefits of dental implants include:
- They look, feel, and function like natural teeth.
- Since the roots are replaced, dental implants will prevent and even reverse loss of bone in the jaw, protecting against facial collapse and weakened bite.
- With proper care, dental implants have the potential to last a lifetime.
- Dental implants do not compromise healthy tooth structures by using them as abutments.