Bridges vs dental implants: Unveiling the perfect smile solution

Table of Contents

A missing tooth is definitely an unwanted situation from the perspective of dentistry. Besides the functional difficulties this situation can create, it also may cause a lot of medical problems. So, filling the place is a necessity for people with missing teeth. But with what? That is definitely a valid question. The two options you have in such a situation are getting dental implants vs dental bridges.

So many people face a choice between these two and can’t decide which one is better or which one will be worth it. Without knowing the differences between bridges vs dental implants properly, patients may regret getting either of them. Well, you’re lucky we’re here to give you the best guide. So, get ready because bridges vs dental implants competition is getting started.

Difference between bridges and dental implants

They actually work similarly, but they are totally different apparatuses. How? A dental implant is a dental prosthetic that structurally mimics natural teeth. Its roots lie in jawbones and its crown functions like a natural tooth. So it has to be inserted into your supportive tissues: gums and bones.

However, a bridge doesn’t require an operation to insert and attach it to supportive tissues. Instead, it is applied to the teeth next to the missing tooth. These neighbor teeth get shaved and get ready for a crown. Then, crowns are attached to both teeth with an artificial tooth between them, that is why it is called a dental bridge. So, a bridge has nothing to do with the gums and bones and covers the surface only.

Pros and cons of dental implants

Implants are the most advanced treatment method for missing teeth. It is preferable because of various reasons. Compared to bridges, they offer better treatment in the long term. However, their application requires some surgical interventions. The implant should be placed in the bone tissue and the bone tissue should fuse with the implant for the best result. 

Here are the pros and cons of dental implants:

Pros Cons
No damage to existing teeth Longer and uncomfortable application
Lasts up to 30 years Long healing process
Prevents bone loss Not suitable for everyone
Easy aftercare Can be costly
Natural feeling and look  
Can replace your entire teeth  
The most effective treatment  

A dental implant transmits the bite force directly to the bone tissue that supports it, so the pressure stimulates the bone tissue. Also, it mimics a natural tooth, so you can use the same equipment for your dental care. On the other hand, not everyone can be suitable for a dental implant. If a patient’s jaw is not large enough, has a bone healing condition, or is smoking, they are not eligible for a dental mental.

Pros and cons of bridges

Bridges are also quite an effective method to fix the functional problems caused by a missing tooth. They help you to chew and speak and give you a beautiful smile. Plus, their application process is easier than implants and they can be a quick solution for you. However, as they don’t actually fill the gap left caused by the missing tooth in the gum and bone tissues, they can’t work as a real tooth.

Here are the pros and cons of bridges:

Pros Cons
Cheaper than implants Harder to clean
Can be made for multiple lost teeth The shaving process may lead to tooth sensitivity
Restores the problems caused by missing teeth Risk of decay under the crown
Doesn’t require a surgery Misalignment risk
Ideal for patients who don’t have enough bone tissue Possible gum recession and bone loss over time
Lasts for 5 to 15 years  

First of all, the area under the bridge stays empty and because of the shape of the bridge, it’s harder to floss and clean it. Plaque buildup and tooth decay can happen over time. Plus, as the supportive tissues don’t get stimulated by pressure created while biting, they begin to recede. Gum recession and bone loss in the empty area can advance, which can affect the neighboring teeth and may even cause tooth loss. And the process requires the shaving of healthy adjacent teeth’s surfaces so the crowns can be applied. As a result of this, some patients may experience problems like tooth sensitivity.

Bridges vs implants: Which side is better?

Now that we have learned both of their benefits and possible risks, it is time to compare both.

Dental Implants Bridges
Good and natural looking May not feel natural
Longer and harder procedure Shorter and more comfortable procedure
Longer healing process No healing process
Easier to clean (especially flossing) Harder to clean (especially flossing)
Lasts up to 30 years Lasts up to 15 years
No operation on adjacent teeth Shaving of adjacent teeth
Covers the absence of missing tooth in every aspect Functionally covers the absence of missing tooth
No risk of gum recession or bone loss Possible gum recession and bone loss
Can’t be applied in the case of severe dental bone loss Can be applied the patients with severe bone loss

So obviously, dental implants are more trustworthy and less risky solutions in the long term. They almost last for a lifetime and provide everything for you. However, if you don’t feel like going through a long healing period, bridges can be a better alternative for you, plus it is cheaper. But when you think about the future, bridges may cause more harm than good. Because they are just fake teeth and do not fill the gap in your gum and bone tissues, complications may happen after some time.

Comparison of the costs

It’s not easy to give exact numbers about it. There are many factors that can affect the average cost. The materials that they are made from, the application procedures, the quality of medical service you get, the currency of the country that you get them from, all these and more things directly affect the prices. But in general, the cost of implants is generally higher than bridges.

Bridges or implants: Facts to consider before deciding

We said that implants are better than the bridges in long term however the best personal solution may change with what you exactly want. People’s choices may differ depending on various factors when it comes to bridges vs dental implants. So, let’s talk about some of them:

Your budget

One of the main factors affecting many people’s choices is their financial means. The best solution does not mean the most suitable solution. Although it may be more profitable in the long run, sometimes what we need is solutions that will not put us in a very difficult situation in the short run. Many insurance companies see dental implants as a cosmetic application. So they don’t provide coverage for implants. However, most of dental insurance plans cover a part of dental bridges. That is why they are more affordable in terms of cost.

Eligibility

Some things are a matter of preference while other things are determined by factors beyond our will. Speaking in this context, it is very important what your dentist will advise you. Because the tooth structure can vary from a person to person and treatment should be done according to it. In such a case, choosing the more appropriate ways will increase the success of the treatment. So, always consult your dentist about what are the best treatment options for you.

Count of missing teeth

The number of missing teeth is also a very important factor in making this choice. Bridge construction requires surface shaving for proper application. However, in case of a patient who have lost many of their teeth, shaving may be not favorable. Since the load and pressure of the false teeth that cover the missing teeth will be on these healthy teeth, the bridge application can affect the other teeth very badly in case of too many missing teeth. So, implants can be better in this situation.

Time

We can talk about time in two ways: the time the application takes and the lifetime of the treatment. The advantage of bridges is you can get them in a few visits. However, implants can take time. If patient’s was tooth was missing for long, bone grafting might be necessary in the first place. Recovery period of bone grafting can take some months. After that, artificial tooth root will be placed and finally dental crown will be put later.

In terms of how long do they last, bridges are not as durable as implants. Depending on your dental hygiene, bridges last for 5 to 15 years. Implants, on the other hand, lasts up to 30 years. Again, implants’ durability also depends on how well you maintain your oral hygiene routine.

Aftercare

Aftercare is definitely one of the most important issues. Bridges are generally more difficult to clean because teeth are bonded to each other. It is not easy to floss, and because there is a gap underneath, bacteria can accumulate here.

Since the implant mimics your natural teeth, you can follow the same hygiene routines with them. However, applying too much pressure while flossing or brushing can damage them. You can ask your dentist for detailed instructions about how to take care of your bridges vs dental implants properly.

References:

Hebel K, Gajjar R, Hofstede T. Single-tooth replacement: bridge vs. implant-supported restoration. J Can Dent Assoc. 2000 Sep;66(8):435-8. PMID: 11040527. (link)

Bouchard P, Renouard F, Bourgeois D, Fromentin O, Jeanneret MH, Beresniak A. Cost-effectiveness modeling of dental implant vs. bridge. Clin Oral Implants Res. 2009 Jun;20(6):583-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0501.2008.01702.x. PMID: 19530315.

Fayyad MA, al-Rafee MA. Failure of dental bridges. II. Prevalence of failure and its relation to place of construction. J Oral Rehabil. 1996 Jun;23(6):438-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2842.1996.tb00875.x. PMID: 8809699.

Dăguci C, Dăguci L, Popescu R, Mercuţ V, Bătăiosu M, Pitru A. Considerations on dental bridges’ stability and balance for mandibulary teeth with coronary-root amputation. Curr Health Sci J. 2012 Oct;38(4):188-90. Epub 2012 Dec 14. PMID: 24778850; PMCID: PMC3945276.

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