Dental Implants vs Dental Bridges: Which is better?
What is the difference between a dental implant and a bridge?
Dental bridges are false teeth that are held in place by your surrounding real teeth. They are often made from porcelain or plastic and match the natural colour of your teeth. Dental bridges can be made to cover one or several of your teeth.
Dental implants are fake teeth that are surgically screwed into your mouth. They are usually made from titanium and are comprised of a screw and a fake tooth fitted on top, called a crown.
Tooth loss is not just something that affects older people. In New Zealand, over 1.8 million people have had a tooth removed at some point in their lifetime due to decay, abscess, infection, or gum disease.
When you lose a tooth, a proper replacement can help keep your mouth and teeth in good alignment. Replacement teeth can make chewing easier, keep your teeth straight, make your smile look better, and help maintain your face shape as we age.
If you are missing a tooth, or need to have a tooth removed, your dentist might recommend a dental bridge or a dental implant to fill the gap. Here is why we sometimes recommend dental implants over bridges as the best solution.
What are the pros and cons of having a bridge?
- Bridges can be more affordable than bridges
- They do not require surgery or bone grafting
- They can be fitted in a couple of weeks
- Dental bridges need to be replaced every 5-7 years
- They can discolour the longer you have them
- Patients are more likely to have cavities in the surrounding teeth
- Dental bridges can cause damage to the healthy surrounding teeth
What are the pros and cons of having an implant?
- Dental implants last 15 years or longer
- They retain a natural appearance when compared to bridges
- They do not damage the surrounding teeth
- They have a high success rate
- They are more expensive than bridges
- It can take 6 months from start to finish
- A small number of people have surgical complications
Why do we sometimes recommend implants over bridges?
While from the outside, a bridge might sound like the better option there are a few reasons why we may recommend dental implants as the best solution.
Dental implants are more expensive, but they are more durable and last twice as long as bridges. Bridges also need the support of the surrounding teeth. This means that the teeth to the left and right are filed down so that the bridge can be fitted either side of the lost tooth.
Over time, this can cause more problems to the surrounding teeth. These teeth are more likely to be damaged over time by decay.
Dental implants may feel like an invasive treatment, but they are a long-lasting solution. They also wear better and will keep a more natural tooth colour, than a bridge will.
Are there any scenarios where bridges are better than implants?
Yes, every patient is different, and implants are not always the best solution. If you have several teeth in a row that need to be replaced a bridge may be a better option.
Cost is also a factor, and some patients need a more affordable solution. Bridges are a cheaper alternative to implants. Some patients are also put off by the time it takes to get implants. The initial surgery can take a few months to heal from and It may take up to six months before a crown is fitted. A bridge is a much quicker option than a dental implant.
How do I know if I need a dental bridge or an implant?
You may need dental implants if you have:
- Missing or chipped teeth that are risk of infection if not removed
- Dentures that do not fit you very well
- Signs of infection in your natural teeth that are getting worse
- Deteriorating jawbone and have had missing teeth for a while
- A sunken face due to missing teeth, as implants can help give your face some structure
The best way to know if you need a dental implant or dental bridge is to book an appointment with your dentist. At Gentle Dental, our qualified team will talk to you about your concerns and whether a dental bridge, dental implant or another type of dental solution is best for you.
Book your appointment for a dental consultation or checkup now.