Dental bridge or an Implant- Which is better?

dental-bridges-vs-dental-implants

Written by Dr. Krupa Patil

December 6, 2021

A dental bridge or an implant is usually needed when one has a missing tooth. After getting your tooth extracted either due to some reason like decay or broken tooth, your dentist either gives you an option of replacing your missing tooth with a bridge or an implant or a denture depending on what is best for you. We are way past the phase where dentures were usually considered as a replacement option for your missing tooth. This usually leaves you with two options to replace your missing tooth, a bridge or an implant, and haven given the choice you would want to know which one is the best.

With a missing front tooth, one tends to smile less with embarrassment and become more anxious thereby affecting their self-confidence. With the advancements in the dental field, there are a number of alternatives available to replace missing teeth. There are plenty of consequences that happen if you don’t replace your missing tooth or teeth which you might have not even thought of. While suffering the consequences of a missing tooth one tends to understand the reason for it and regret not replacing it. Replacing your missing tooth is essential as this helps the remaining teeth to be aligned without causing any further consequences. 

Understanding the difference : Bridge vs implant

A dental bridge replaces one or more missing teeth by using teeth adjacent to the missing teeth as an anchor. This means just like while constructing a bridge you need to take support from either side of the river banks similarly while replacing the tooth support is taken from the two health teeth besides the missing space. Dental bridges are usually made of materials like full ceramic, full metal, or a combination of both that is metal-ceramic. 

Unlike dental bridges that replace only the crown portion of the tooth dental implants are made from titanium metal that replaces the entire tooth including the root of the tooth which is inside the jaw bone. Dental implants are drilled through the gums into the bone to hold them in place and surgically screwed into the jawbone.

With more discussion going around which treatment modality is better for the replacement of teeth, here’s an insight to their comparison.

Comparing the two

Lifespan 

Comparing the longevity of the dental implants and bridges, implants last longer than the bridges as they are able to take in the extra load and are able to withstand the chewing and biting forces better than bridges. this isbecause the screw is embedded inside the jawbone and has more support and is more stable. 

Hygiene maintenance

Bridges over the years can have plaque and calculus deposition on them if oral hygiene is not maintained as these bridges only replace the crown and not the root which opens a free space for the micro-organisms to multiply and reduce the jaw bone height. It is also very difficult to clean the spaces below the bridges and often causes irritation of the gums (gingivitis) and if ignored periodontitis of the tissues in and around it.

Procedure

Dental implants usually involve the surgical placement of the screw inside the bone which the majority of the society is afraid of and therefore do not prefer this line of treatment. While on the other hand, placing dental bridges do not require any surgery. 

Long term use 

For the bridge to be placed the healthy adjacent teeth are trimmed off so that the crown bridge that is fabricated can fit over it. These bridges restrict the user to have hard food items as it may get fractured if bitten too hard. A fractured bridge then needs immediate replacement in order to avoid the complications of missing tooth and manufacturing a new one results as same amount of money as that of an implant. Implant in comparison is beneficial for long-term use.

Strength

As compared to those with implants, they do not have to think twice before eating as the implants placed into the alveolar bone for more better strength as that of the bridges. 

Bone strength

Since the bridges only replace teeth and not the underlying bone, there occurs resorption of the jaw bone at a much faster rate, which may affect the teeth used as anchors. bone height and density reduces in the area of the missing space even if a bridge is placed.

Prone to decay

incase of bridges where the enamel and some portion of the dentin layers of the tooth are trimmed exposes the deeper layers of the tooth making the healthy adjacent teeth more prone to cavities. This is because there is some amount of space between the bridge crown and the tooth where the microorganisms may enter and find a way below the cap to reach the tooth.

 Esthetics

One can easily differentiate between implant and bridges as implants give a more natural look as compared to the dental bridges, implants give the crown a natural emerging profile which is difficult to achieve with traditional bridges.

Success rate 

Unlike implants, dental bridges often tend to break get fractured or get loose with time and may also turn yellow in color with time. the dental bridge may start shaking or moving if the adjacent strong teeth have become weak. The success rate of the bridges depends a lot on the surrounding tissues in the mouth such as the gums and the bone. Whereas implants are more independent and receive good strength on their own. The success rate of the implant is, therefore, higher than the bridges.

Cost

Implants are usually on the costlier side in comparison to bridges if you want to replace a single missing tooth. The cost of the implant is calculated on the number of screws placed and the number of crowns required to replace the missing tooth.

Whereas the cost of the dental bridges is calculated on the number of crowns used in the fabrication of the bridge. However, if the bridge treatment is unsuccessful maybe after a few years and you might need a new bridge it may turn out to be even costlier than the implants. So it is very much case dependant.

Can anyone get a bridge or an implant?

Yes, anyone with a missing tooth or teeth can receive dental implants and bridges. Implants can be placed in individuals whose bodies are ready to take up surgical procedures. Implants are avoided in cases where patients suffer from uncontrolled systemic diseases like as Diabetes Mellitus, hypertension) as they have a poor prognosis and also slow down the healing process. For such candidates, dental bridges are a safer option as this does not require any surgical procedures and be continued for a longer span of time.

Receiving dental implants approximately takes a month for their placement as osseointegration(fusion of the bone and the implant screw) has to occur for a successful implant procedure, while on the other hand a dental bridge can be placed within two sittings over a couple of weeks thereby consuming less time and faster mode of treatment.  Any of the tooth replacement procedures are not done in pregnant women nor in children.

Your dentist is your best guide

Overall both the treatment options have their own pros and cons, in the end depends on the expertise and experience of the dentist and patients’ preferences which they want to go with. To endure the right treatment for your missing tooth you can have a conversation with your dentist for the best outcome. Tele consult with DentalDost to know as to have proper guidance and know what’s best for you. by carefully taking into consideration all the patient’s concerns and delivering the best treatment. 

The bottom Line

An implant cannot be placed in all cases and similarly, a bridge cannot be placed in compromised cases. It’s on your dentist to make the right choice for you. Given the choice, if both the options are possible in your case you can choose implant as a better option to replace your missing tooth.

Highlights

  • Bridges do not require surgical intervention as compared to dental implants.
  • Longer sitting hours are required for dental implants as that of bridges
  • Bridges are most cost- effective than implants
  • Implants are more stronger than bridges as they replace the tooth as whole as compared to bridges that replace only the crown structure
  • Implants have a better success rate than bridges.
  • Any tooth replacement option would need good oral hygiene to increase the lifespan of the treatment done.

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