Most people view a missing tooth as a cosmetic problem, but it’s far more than that. A missing tooth can disrupt your ability to chew, affect your speech, and allow surrounding teeth to shift out of place. If you’re missing a tooth, you will likely be given two choices: a dental bridge or an implant. Both options have their pros and cons, so today we’re pitting them against one another in a head-to-head match so that you can decide which is best. Dental bridge vs. implant: which do you prefer?
Dental Bridge vs. Implant
Both options will fill the gap left by your missing tooth, but they achieve the goal in very different ways. A dental bridge hooks onto the two surrounding teeth, holding a replacement tooth (known as a pontic) in the gap. An implant, on the other hand, is a titanium post inserted into the jaw. After the screw is firmly attached to the bone (which takes several weeks), a crown is placed on top.
A bridge relies on the surrounding teeth to offer support, potentially straining them. It is also not possible to use a bridge without strong surrounding teeth. An implant, on the other hand, will not place any pressure on the surrounding teeth. It stands on its own.
An implant requires dental surgery, which can be discomfiting to a patient. Bridges, however, are quite simple and do not require surgical intervention. They are also approved for those who do not have a healthy jaw bone.
An implant will take two to three times longer than a bridge to install. Although procedure time varies from patient to patient and product to product, dental bridges are almost always quicker to install when compared with implants.
Both implants and bridges are very stable, and they will not move as you’re chewing food or speaking. However, an implant’s position within the mouth makes it sturdier and stronger. It does require a healthy bone for support, however, so some patients aren’t ideal candidates (this includes smokers, people who grind their teeth, and people who have diabetes).
MAINTENANCE & LONGEVITY
An implant doesn’t require hefty maintenance. In fact, a high-quality implant product that is installed properly can last a lifetime! Bridges, though strong and sturdy, will likely need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. And of course, both products must be maintained through proper oral hygiene. Because of this difference in longevity, implants typically cost more than bridges.
For the past several years, implants have been more popular than bridges (source). This may be because they are easy to clean, able to last a lifetime, and require no support from surrounding teeth. However, bridges are still a common choice as well.
Both options offer a natural, low-maintenance solution. It all comes down to personal preference, the health of your mouth, and your dentist’s recommendation. We urge you to speak with your dentist to explore the details further, so that you can learn how a dental bridge or implant would complement your smile. You may also wish to explore other options for how to replace a missing tooth. With a little research, you’ll be able to make a confident final decision. Good luck!
Are you missing a tooth? If you would like to replace it with a dental bridge or implant and you live in Springfield, Missouri, please contact Wilkinson Dental today. You can request an appointment online or give us a call at 417-882-8222. We would be happy to help!