Dental Implant vs. Dental Bridge
If you’ve lost a single natural tooth, your dentist can recommend dental restorations that will work for you. Most people choose to replace a single missing tooth with either a dental bridge or a dental implant, and you and your dentist can weigh the pros and cons of each type of restoration in relation to your clinical needs, budget, and preferences. If you’d like information about your options before you meet with your dentist, some basic explanations of dental bridges and dental implants may be helpful.
A dental bridge might be recommended for patients who are missing a single tooth, creating a gap between two healthy teeth. The dental bridge is a false tooth that is supported on either side by a dental crown. These dental crowns are cemented onto the healthy teeth adjacent to the gap and secure a third tooth where the gap once was. All of these dental crowns are made of natural-looking material, usually porcelain, and are crafted to match the natural teeth in color and shape. Dental bridges are more commonly recommended to replace teeth near the back of the mouth, as they tend to be more noticeable than dental implants.
A dental implant is a prosthetic tooth that is affixed to a small post inserted in the jawbone during a surgical procedure. Dental implants are the optimal dental restoration for people who wish to replace a tooth in the front of the mouth, in the aesthetic zone, thanks to their natural appearance. In addition to looking lustrous and strong, dental implants are stable and durable, and they stimulate the bone that supports them and encourage its health. When the natural teeth fall out or are extracted and the root is removed from the bone, the jawbone begins to atrophy. This is the reason that many people who are missing teeth have a sunken appearance in their lower face and mouth. When implants are placed into the bone, they help keep the bone from shrinking. The tooth that the implant supports helps exercise the bone when chewing and biting, stimulating its continued health in the long term.
While dental bridges are usually more noticeable than dental implants, they are generally less expensive than implants. Implant treatment can take anywhere from a few months to a year or longer, while bridges can be fitted and crafted in two visits over the span of just a few weeks. While dental bridges help prevent the migration of the remaining natural teeth, holding the dentition in place, it’s usually necessary to modify the healthy teeth that are used to support the bridge in preparation for their crowns. Dental implants maintain the integrity of the remaining natural teeth while encouraging the continued health of the bone in the jaw. Taking into consideration the location of your new tooth, the time you’re hoping to spend on treatment, and the costs and benefits of each treatment, have a conversation with your dentist. Your clinical needs will be considered as well, and you and your dentist can agree on the optimal solution for you to replace your missing front tooth.