Dental Implant or Bridge – Exploring Your Best Options
Dr. Adams has done thousands of implants, bridges and root canals. He has no financial bias in how your tooth is replaced. This article is Dr. Adams’ opinion based on years of private practice experience. Dr. Adams compares the advantages and disadvantages of bridges and implants in this article. Please give us feedback.
Depending on the Situation a Bridge or Implant is a Better Choice
“Implants do not have negative consequences such as drilling tooth structure, connecting, leveraging and compromising your existing natural teeth. There are situations when a traditional bridge is the best method to replace a tooth. But in general, implants are a better option for replacing teeth compared to bridges.”
Dental Implant vs Bridge Video Animation
What is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant replaces a tooth by literally adding a new tooth root and crown into your mouth. Implant replacements co-exist with natural teeth and look, feel and function the same as their counterparts. Maintenance such as brushing and flossing around implants is the same as around natural teeth.
Advantages of Implants vs Bridges?
- Implants do not put pressure and connect to natural teeth
- Successful implants prevent bone and gum loss
- Maintenance such as brushing and flossing is the same as regular teeth
- Implants feel similar to natural teeth and not thick or bulky.
- Replacing teeth prevents teeth shifting and a bad bite
- Implants do not decay, get cavities or need root canals
- dental implants rarely crack or break like natural teeth
- Implants cost less than bridges when replacing a single tooth
What is a Teeth Bridge?
A bridge is where missing teeth spaces are filled by connecting fake teeth to natural teeth. A bridge procedure typically requires drilling at least 1mm off the outer layer of the natural teeth. Bridges provide stability and prevent teeth from shifting and collapsing into missing teeth spaces. Bridges feel different since teeth are connected and can no longer be flossed individually.
What Does a Bridge vs Implant Cost?
For replacing one tooth, a dental bridge costs about as much as three crowns. In the Washington DC metro area, the cost of a dental bridge is about $5000. The cost of replacing a single tooth with a dental implant is $4500 on the average.
Do Dental Implants last Longer than Bridges?
Yes, on the average bridges last 5-10 years and successful implants last a lifetime. Bridges are more susceptible to failure than implants. Bridges are susceptible to cavities, gum disease, fracture, and nerves dying. Implants do not have nerves. They do not decay. And implants present little risk to gum disease or fracture.
Are Bridges better than Implants?
- Bridge procedures can be completed in 2-3 weeks and two trips to the dentist. Replacing a tooth with an implant usually takes 3-6 months and 3-5 trips to the dentist.
- Teeth need to be drilled down by 1mm or more and connected with spans of false teeth
- Bone is lost when teeth are removed and not replaced. Tooth function stimulates bone vitality and proliferation. Use it or lose it.
- Bridges are more difficult to clean because teeth are connected. Regular flossing cannot be done.
- Teeth involved in bridges decay more easily since they are connected and more difficult to clean.
- Bridging teeth prevents them from moving
- Teeth involved in a bridge can fracture due to more force placed on fewer teeth. Teeth are being leveraged to replace missing teeth.
- Teeth in bridges are at increased risk for needing root canal therapy. Heavier biting forces can cause nerves in teeth to die.
- bridges usually do not last as long as dental implants
- bridging teeth leads to more tooth loss. Then what? A bigger bridge or more implants?
For people with metal allergies and sensitivities, zirconia implants made of ceramic are an option.
When is it Better to Do a Bridge Instead of an Implant?
- When a dental implant is not possible.
- In cases where the patient has a bone disease
- In the event of uncontrolled systemic disease such as unstable diabetes
- When your insurance company pays for bridges and not implants. And you cannot afford to pay for a dental implants. Beware when the bridge fails you will lose more teeth and replacement costs will get a lot more expensive.
Does Dental Insurance Cover Dental Implants and Bridges?
Most insurances companies have benefits for tooth replacement. Most modern insurance companies have benefits for implants and bridges. Coverages always come down to individual policies and should be verified prior to any dental or medical procedure. Coverages have nothing to do with cosmetic vs non cosmetic procedures. Tooth replacement is necessary. Some dental plans are limited with waiting periods and monetary annual limits.
Is it Necessary to Replace a missing tooth?
- Teeth can shift and the bite can go bad. Bite collapse.
- Tooth wear and breakage because of imbalanced and uneven biting forces around the area of the missing tooth or teeth. Bad bites can lead to tooth clenching and grinding. How to stop teeth clenching at night.
- Bone loss and gum disease especially near where teeth have been lost.
- Food trapping in areas where teeth are missing. Gum disease may develop as teeth shift and more spaces open up for food and bacteria to get stuck.
Bridging Teeth Leads to the Loss of More Teeth
Research has shown that dental bridges will typically last 5-10 years. Bridges typically fail with the loss of another tooth and the need to bridge even more teeth or get an additional implant. For the loss of a tooth involved in a bridge:
- now there will be the need for more teeth to be replaced and a bigger less favorable bridge or 2-3 implants instead of one had an implant been done from the beginning.
- Bone grafting will likely be necessary because a tooth has been lost for a long time
- crowns will be needed for any teeth surviving a bridge failure
- or maybe 3 implants if all teeth in the bridge are lost
Implants are usually a Better Long-term Financial Investment
Dental Implants in the long run cost less than bridges because a bridge will eventually fall apart, resulting in the need for more dental implants. Bridges usually costs about as much as 3 crowns. One implant costs less than a 3 tooth bridge. Unless there is a reason why someone cannot receive a dental implant, there is no good reason to get a bridge. Implants now come in metal-free zirconia in the event of a metal allergy.
The dental implant is the best way to replace teeth. Bridges normally lead to bone and gum loss, poor cosmetic results, tooth decay / caries and more tooth loss. Research shows that 60% of all dental bridges fail during the first 10 years. Dr. Adams does implant teeth from start to finish. Teeth can normally be replaced from start to finish in 2-3 months in 2-3 short appointments.
Implants can also be used for bridges. And options to replace all teeth with implants exist:
Why Do I Lose My Natural Teeth?
- Tooth decay as a result of irregular brushing & cleaning habits, excessive intake of sugar containing sticky foods, carbonated beverage consumption like Coca Cola, Pepsi, energy drinks etc and neglected oral hygiene,
- Dry mouth can cause tooth damage. Drink plenty of water and rinse your mouth as much as you can to prevent tooth loss,
- Gum diseases,
- Old age,
- Excessive cigarette smoking habit,
- Never visiting a dentist for professional dental care,
- Diseases like Diabetes Mellitus.
What Problems Can You Face If Teeth are not Replaced?
- Problems with eating, drinking, speech & basic activities involving teeth,
- Shifting and tilting of teeth in empty spaces created by lost teeth,
- Over-eruption of opposing teeth causing elongated appearance and eventually loosening and mobility of teeth,
- Problems in bite,
- Loss of jawbone.
What Are Different Replacement Options For Lost Natural Teeth?
There are different options for replacing your lost natural teeth but the last two are considered better in comparison to all options,
- Removable Partial Dentures
- Teeth Bridges
- Dental Implants