Bridge vs Implant

Ask Dr. Stanfield: What’s a dental bridge vs. a dental implant?

Considering a bridge or implant? Both are ways of replacing missing teeth to give you the appearance and functionality of a complete set of teeth. However, the way they give you back your smile is pretty different! If you have an implant, a metal cylinder is surgically implanted into your jaw, and it becomes the artificial “root” for a new artificial tooth. No matter what kind of dental bridge you have, the basic idea is the same: “bridging” two healthy teeth (or dental implants) with a framework that holds an artificial tooth to fill the spot where a missing tooth is.

The main advantage of implants over bridges is that the teeth next to the space don’t have to be altered, reducing the chance that they may get decayed, damaged, or otherwise need treatment. Implants also can be crafted to most closely replicate the natural condition of your adjoining teeth, and they may look slightly more natural than bridges.

Are there any drawbacks to dental implants?
Some insurance companies don’t pay as much toward implants, so cost can be a factor in making the decision of whether to choose bridges or implants. In some cases, a patient’s jaw may not be healthy enough to take the implantation of an artificial root, or the gum tissue may be seriously compromised by periodontal disease. Inserting dental implants may take several months, especially if original teeth have to be removed, a bone graft must be made to support the implant, or other steps need to be taken to ensure the implant is well done.

Are there any drawbacks to dental bridges?
Dental bridges don’t typically last as long as dental implants, simply because they are applied to the surface of existing teeth, not attached directly into your jawbone. In addition, bridges may look a little less natural than implants, and they may cause issues with the adjacent teeth they’re anchored to.