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Dental Bridge vs Implants

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Teeth have an extremely rough life. They are regularly exposed to acids and come under extreme pressure every day during biting and chewing. Consequently, it is hardly surprising that most of us will lose one or more teeth as we age.

The problem with losing teeth is that it can affect your ability to talk and eat. Your remaining teeth will drift towards the gaps, destabilizing them and affecting your bite. There is less support for your facial muscles, so your face can begin to collapse inward. These problems can all affect self-esteem.

Two of the most popular ways to replace missing teeth are to have a dental bridge or dental implants. Both treatments work differently, so it’s important to understand how they work to choose the procedure that suits you best.

What Is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a tried and tested solution for tooth loss, filling in the missing tooth or teeth with an artificial restoration called a pontic. The pontic is shaped to look exactly like a real tooth, resting directly on the gum.

The pontic is supported by crowns on either side that fit over the teeth adjacent to the gap. For example, if you are missing a single tooth, both teeth on either side must be crowned, creating a three-tooth or three-unit restoration.

What Is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is a small screw designed to replace the missing tooth root artificially. It is inserted into the jawbone during a short oral surgery procedure. Once in the jawbone, it soon fuses with the bone, becoming strong and stable enough to support a replacement tooth. A connector is attached to the implant screw, and this holds the implant crown.

Most people will be suitable for either treatment but will most likely prefer a particular approach. Some of the pros and cons of each treatment are outlined below.

Dental Bridge vs Implants

Pros and Cons of a Dental Bridge

Dental bridges have several benefits:

  • They restore your ability to eat comfortably.
  • No oral surgery is required.
  • A bridge can be completed quickly over just a couple of weeks.
  • Initially, a bridge will cost less than a dental implant.
  • The cost of a dental bridge is more likely to be covered by dental insurance.
  • Well-designed dental bridges can look and feel natural.
  • They help prevent adjacent teeth from shifting out of place.

Not everyone wishes to have oral surgery or is suitable, and dental bridges are quicker from start to finish. However, there are some disadvantages:

  • It is necessary to reshape adjacent teeth for dental crowns, removing potentially healthy tooth structure. This can increase the risk of tooth decay and infection later.
  • A dental bridge will not last forever and may need replacing after ten years or sooner.

Some people find cleaning around a dental bridge tricky because the teeth are connected. However, there are special tools to make this task easier, and our hygiene team can demonstrate the right techniques.

Pros and Cons of a Dental Implant

Potential benefits of dental implants include:

  • Dental implants can last for life with the right care, although restorations, such as implant crowns or bridges, will need replacing periodically.
  • Dental implant teeth have a biting and chewing strength similar to natural teeth.
  • Implants prevent teeth from shifting out of place.
  • They replace teeth while protecting neighboring teeth, as there is no need to reshape or adjust them.
  • Dental implants restore a natural appearance, providing the right support for your cheeks and lips.
  • Implant screws help protect your jawbone, preventing bone resorption that occurs naturally after real teeth are removed.
  • Most people are suitable for dental implants provided they are over age 18, and being older is generally not a barrier.

As you can see, there are some considerable benefits in choosing dental implants; in the long term, they can be more cost-effective. However, they still require proper care and maintenance.

Potential drawbacks of dental implants can include:

  • Oral surgery is needed to install dental implant posts. There is always a small risk with any form of oral surgery. However, we take considerable precautions to minimize these risks, and our oral surgeon is extremely experienced in planning and placing implants.
  • Treatment takes longer, and it may take 3 to 6 months and require multiple visits to our dental clinic in NJ to finish this procedure.
  • Dental implants aren’t generally suitable for anyone aged under 18 and whose jaws and teeth are still developing.
  • Some people may be less suitable for implant treatment, including anyone who smokes or who has specific health conditions affecting their immune system. These can affect implant healing and increase the risk of failure.
  • Initially, a dental implant is more expensive than a bridge.
  • Dental implant treatment is less likely to be covered by insurance, although this is changing as insurance companies become more enlightened about the treatment’s benefits.

How to Choose the Right Treatment

There are many factors to consider when deciding between a dental bridge and a dental implant. Although we can provide a lot of information about each treatment, including the cost and how long it will take to complete, it is often a case of individual preference. Some other questions are worth consideration.

Before deciding, here are some questions to think about:

  1. How quickly do you want to complete treatment?
  2. Are you willing to have oral surgery?
  3. How much care will you devote to looking after dental implants and keeping them clean?
  4. How much will it cost to replace a dental bridge compared to an implant crown?
  5. Are any other procedures needed for dental implants, like bone or gum grafting?

While dental implants may be less convenient to plan and fit and cost more initially, they are the more advanced treatment and are largely considered the gold standard for replacing missing teeth. However, many people have dental bridges and are perfectly happy with this quicker and cheaper solution.

Everyone’s situation is different, but please remember we are here to answer all your questions and discuss each treatment in depth to help you make the right choice.

Page Updated on May 23, 2024 by Dr. Victoria Kushensky, DDS (Dentist) of My New Jersey Dentist
Victoria Kushensky D.D.S

My name is Victoria Kushensky. I am a general dentist dedicated to remaining at the forefront of my field. Combining compassionate care with extensive knowledge, I offer cosmetic and general dentistry services as well as advanced root canal treatments.

I earned my Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the esteemed New York University College of Dentistry. Throughout my career, I have honed my skills in various dental procedures, ensuring effective treatment for each patient’s unique needs. I prioritize patient comfort and understanding, taking the time to thoroughly explain procedures and address any questions.

More about Dr. Kushensky

My NJ Dentist: Victoria Kushensky, DDS
385 Prospect Ave Suite 304
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 298-8000