Dental Implants vs Bridges

There’s nothing new about replacing teeth lost through decay, gum disease, or injury. People have been using artificial teeth for thousands of years. However, advances in dental technology mean that many more tooth replacement options are available today. These include implants and bridges. At Times Square Dental, we offer both options.

A dental bridge, as the name suggests, bridges the gap caused by one or more missing teeth. Bridges are made of porcelain, alloys or gold or a mixture of these materials. They are fixed onto adjacent teeth for support.

A dental implant is a synthetic tooth root – typically titanium – that’s surgically fitted into the jaw to bond with the bone. An abutment is attached to the implant, and a crown fixed onto the abutment. Implants provide a base for permanent or removable artificial teeth. They can be used instead of bridges and dentures or as a support for a dental plate. So, let’s look at the pros and cons of dental implants vs. dental bridges.

Benefits of Dental Bridges

Bridges are non-removable, the main reason they used to be regarded as the best method of replacing teeth.

Other benefits of bridges include:

  • Non-surgical procedure.
  • Natural appearance.
  • Effective distribution of the pressure of your bite.
  • Stopping remaining teeth from shifting out of place.
  • Restoring your smile and ability to speak and eat properly.
  • Maintaining the shape of your face.

According to the WebMD health information platform, dental bridges can last five to 15 years or even longer and dental insurance will generally cover a percentage of the cost of treatment.

Drawbacks of Dental Bridges

Compared with implants, the disadvantages of dental bridges include:

  • More extensive oral hygiene measures may be necessary.
  • Bridges have to be replaced eventually.
  • If the adjacent teeth have already been crowned, they will need to be re-capped.
  • A significant amount of enamel has to be removed from adjacent teeth.

Benefits of Dental Implants

When weighing up the pros and cons of dental implants vs. dental bridges, many people opt for implants because they look and feel just like natural teeth. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) says implants are the preferred choice when replacing teeth because of their high level of functionality. Implants also help to maintain the structure of the jaw.

Other advantages of implants include:

  • Adjacent teeth are not affected.
  • Protection against gum issues and tooth decay.
  • Multiple implants can be fitted during a single procedure.
  • Implants can last a lifetime.
  • Promotion of bone growth as the jaw grows back around the implant.
  • High success rate.
  • You can brush and floss as normal.

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, implants are suitable for anyone in good overall health whose jaw has fully developed.

Drawbacks of Dental Implants

  • More expensive than bridges.
  • If there is insufficient quality bone in the jaw, a graft may be necessary.
  • More preparation and planning time than bridges.

The Dental Implant Procedure

Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth or multiple teeth. Your Boise dentist will anesthetize the area where the implant is to be inserted and then remove gum tissue to reveal the underlying bone. A pilot hole will be drilled half-way into the bone. When the dentist is satisfied with the alignment, a series of progressively larger drills will be used to widen the hole to the required size. The implant is screwed into the bone and an implant cap is used to seal the area and help the gum tissue to heal. It may be several months before the implant cap can be replaced with a final crown or bridge.

The Dental Bridge Procedure

The process of having a bridge fitted usually takes a few visits to your dentist. During your first appointment, your dentist will prepare the abutment teeth – those on either side of the gap – after administering a local anesthetic. This process entails reshaping these teeth by removing enamel to create room for a crown. Next, impressions are taken to produce the crowns and the bridge false tooth (pontic) or teeth that will be made in a dental lab. Your dentist will fit a temporary bridge to protect the exposed gums and teeth while the new bridge is being made. During your second visit, the temporary bridge will be removed, and the new bridge checked and adjusted if necessary to achieve a good fit. More visits may then be required to check the fit of the bridge and your bite function. For a bridge to work properly, it’s important to keep remaining teeth healthy and strong to provide a solid base for the device.

Are There Different Types of Dental Implants?

Many different types of dental implants are available. The most common are standard two-piece implants the same size as a tooth. Smaller than regular implants, mini implants have a one-piece screw with a ball-shaped end and can be used when patients don’t have sufficient jawbone for a standard implant. Micro implants – even smaller than their mini counterparts – can be used to secure a temporary bridge or when the space between teeth is very small. Implant-retained overdentures can be when a patient has lost all their teeth or a row of teeth.

Are There Different Types of Dental Bridges?

Dental bridges come in three main types. Traditional bridges are the most common and are usually made from either ceramics or porcelain fused to metal. Resin-bonded bridges comprise porcelain, metal bonded to porcelain, or plastic gums and teeth supported by a porcelain or metal frame. Cantilever bridges can be used when teeth are missing on one side of the gap.

Dental Implants vs. Dental Bridges: Which is Right for You?

If you have lost a tooth or are missing several teeth, an experienced dentist like Dr. Jon Hastings will be able to help you decide whether an implant or bridge system is right for you. A bridge may be the better option if adjacent teeth are likely to need crowns in the future or when a tooth or teeth have been missing for some time, resulting in recession of gum tissue and bone. An implant may be more suitable if you’re looking for a natural-looking, long-lasting solution that avoids damaging surrounding teeth. Contact Times Square Dental today to find out whether dental implants or dental bridges are the right choice for you to replace missing teeth.