Dental Bridge vs Implant
So what’s the big difference?
Both dental bridges and implants are commonly used to fill the gap resulting from a missing tooth. They restore the look and function of the tooth. Both implants and bridges give people with missing teeth the opportunity to restore their smile. Which option is right for you depends on your goals and concerns, as each method has both advantages and disadvantages.
A dental implant is a titanium screw inserted into the jaw bone. This screw acts like the root of a tooth, securing an artificial tooth in place of the missing tooth.
The surgical procedure required to insert the screw can be time-consuming, and the surgery itself makes dental implants a poor option for some patients, such as those concerned about pain, healing time, or the thought of oral surgery.
After this procedure is complete, a dental implant looks like a natural tooth, even up close. It will blend in with the surrounding teeth, and is sculpted to look like your natural teeth, both in shape and in color. This makes a dental implant the preferred option when replacing a tooth lost from the front of the mouth, where it will be more visible.
Dental implants, due to their structure, also function more like real teeth. They are anchored into the jaw bone, and offer the same chewing force as a natural tooth. The implant itself is permanent, though the artificial tooth on top of the implant may need to be replaced from time to time. However, implants tend to have a higher upfront cost than bridges. If you have multiple missing teeth, this option may be cost-prohibitive. Some patients opt for a bridge because the cost of dental implants is too high.
A dental bridge, on the other hand, crosses the gap created by a missing tooth without being anchored into the jaw bone. Instead, it is anchored to the surrounding teeth. This metal device is cemented onto the natural teeth at both sides of the gap. Literally ‘bridging’ this gap, a bridge provides an anchor for an artificial tooth. It does require preparation of the surrounding teeth, which are usually capped with crowns before the insertion of a bridge. As a result, it requires surrounding teeth that are fairly stable. On the other hand, it may not be preferred when the surrounding teeth are in exceptionally good condition.
The goal of a bridge, as with a dental implant, is an improvement in both function and appearance. However, an artificial tooth anchored by a bridge does not look quite like a natural tooth, nor does it have quite the same strength as an implant.
Despite these downsides, there are several advantages to using a bridge instead of an implant. First, the procedure to insert a bridge tends to be faster and less expensive than that required for an implant. As such, it is preferred by those who are concerned about overall cost or just a general dislike of oral surgery. In addition, a dental bridge may be preferred by those who cannot undergo dental implant surgeries for various reasons, such as health concerns or not having enough jaw bone to anchor the implant.