If you’re a candidate for implants and you need to replace a single missing tooth, you’re probably wondering which is better, an implant or a bridge? Initially, it appears that a bridge is the more economical route when comparing the cost with that of an implant. Fees for an implant tend to start at the upper end of the cost for a fixed bridge. However, upon closer evaluation the dental implant is often found to be the more cost-effective and better treatment option when comparing cost versus value.
Dental implants do not require support from adjacent teeth whereas bridges do. The teeth on either side of the site of the missing tooth must be prepared, or drilled down, to support the bridge. This process may make these teeth more susceptible to bacteria, decay, gum disease, and may even lead to future root canals. This is particularly unfortunate when the adjacent teeth are healthy and free of decay. So, in essence you protect the vitality of adjacent teeth when you opt for a dental implant.
You can care for implants just as you would your natural teeth; brushing and flossing is essentially the same. In contrast, many consider the additional effort required to care for a bridge to be cumbersome and time consuming.
The key part of a dental implant is the titanium anchor that will integrate into the socket that once held the root of the now missing tooth. This is essential as it prevents the bone loss that normally occurs when a missing tooth is replaced with a bridge, partial, or denture.
Although the titanium root form, or anchor, of the implant may last a lifetime the implant supported crown will require replacement at approximately the same interval as a bridge. The typical functional lifespan of these restorations is anywhere from seven to fifteen years depending upon home care and regular professional maintenance. With that said, implants generally have a lower cost over their lifetime than bridges. In addition, implants look and feel more natural than bridges which leads to higher patient satisfaction.
Not everyone is an ideal candidate for implants. The patient should be a non-smoker in good general and oral health, have adequate bone density in the jaw to support the implant, and be free of periodontal disease. Both procedures have a risk for failure. There tends to be a higher failure rate for fixed bridges, especially the posterior ones, because they are difficult to clean.
Bridges, on the other hand, have their advantages as well. There is absolutely no surgery involved with a bridge procedure. In contrast, dental implants require surgical intervention and, at times, the patient may undergo general anesthesia.
The process of the bridge procedure is quicker and less complex than that of dental implants. The entire bridge procedure will be complete in approximately two to three visits to your dentist. Whereas, the implant may require coordination of your care with other healthcare professionals and numerous office visits.
A dental bridge is recommended in the case of jaw bone loss or significant damage. The process will be simpler, less painful, and less expensive in such instances. It is important to know that the positioning of dental implants demands healthy bone.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of your overall health, personal preference, and the investment you are willing to make. The doctors and staff at Central Dental are happy to discuss your options with you.