If you have a missing tooth or teeth and you are considering the pros and cons of dental implants versus a bridge, we have a detailed analysis.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth. In implant surgery, a manmade root is placed in the patient’s bone. Over time a bond is formed much like the bond between your jaw and original tooth. After time has been allowed for healing, a tooth is fabricated and placed on that root.
Advantages of Dental Implants:
- Implants are a longer lasting alternative to dental bridges – the average lifespan of a bridge is only 8 years.
- Dental implants help to preserve the bone structure and prevent bone deterioration
- Dental implants eliminate the need to grind down surrounding healthy teeth
- Preparation of teeth for a bridge causes trauma to those teeth, often resulting in root canal treatments in addition to the bridge
- Implants help reduce the load on surrounding teeth, lessening the possibility of damage or failure
- Implants for dentures allow you to feel more confident when talking, chew your food better, and improve your facial contours
- Acceptance by insurance plans increases continually
- Cost is similar to a bridge and is less expensive in some cases
Disadvantages of Dental Implants:
- Implant procedures take longer to complete. While some companies are advertising immediate-use implants, this practice is limited to a very small number of people and under specific circumstances. Here at Benchmark Dental, and for most patients, we prefer to let the implant integrate with your bone for a few months before placing the crown. This ensures the long-term success of the placement.
- As with any surgical procedure, there are complications that may occur, although dental implants are the most successful of any load-bearing implant placed in the body, including knees, hips, etc.
- In some cases, bone grafting is necessary, requiring an additional procedure and additional healing time.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A fixed dental bridge is a permanent prosthesis that is attached to your existing natural teeth on either side of the missing tooth. In dental bridge surgery, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth socket are ground down to fit the sockets cast in the dental bridge. The bridge is then cemented in place to “bridge” the gap.
Advantages of Dental Bridges
- Shorter timeframe of treatment
- If the bone has recessed, no bone grafting is necessary
Disadvantages of Dental Bridges
- Limited life span – after 8 to 10 years, bridges need to be replaced incurring additional costs and discomfort. If bridges aren’t replaced, there is an increased risk of cracks forming in the underlying tooth.
- The integrity of the anchor teeth are compromised which can cause them to degrade or fail at a future date.
- The surrounding anchor teeth are prone to bacterial plaque accumulations, decay, periodontal disease, and the possible need for a future root canal operation.
- Nothing is done to preserve the bone that is beneath the bridge, allowing it to melt away as normal processes take place. This endangers the adjacent teeth.
So what’s better when it comes to dental implants versus a bridge?
Over the long term, dental implants are the best possible solution for missing teeth. They are currently the best option for both replacing a missing tooth and securing dentures.