A Tale of Two Smiles: Dental Bridges vs. Dental Implants

In the United States, approximately 120 MILLION adults are missing at least one permanent tooth. Missing teeth disrupt all types of everyday dental functions–from eating to smiling. For patients who would like to fill the gap of a missing tooth (or teeth!), they can opt for a dental bridge or a dental implant. Although they achieve the same purpose of filling a smile, bridges and implants differ both in structure and long-term success. Let’s take a look.

Dental Bridges bridge the gap between missing teeth. Structurally, the false teeth of the dental bridge are anchored and supported by crowns that are fitted to the natural teeth on either side of the gap. Some bridges require the anchor teeth to be prepared by being filed down to fit in the crown; others have porcelain or metal wings which are cemented to the backs of the anchor teeth. 

Dental Implants fill the gap of a missing tooth by implanting a porcelain tooth crown (replacing the missing tooth’s crown) fitted to a titanium screw post (replacing the missing tooth’s root). Dental implants are placed with a multi-step process: First, an oral surgeon inserts the titanium screw into the jawbone. The implant screw and jawbone are then given time to fuse (usually 3-6 months) by a process called osseointegration. After the implant screw and jawbone have fused, a dental crown is fitted on top and voila! A new tooth for your smile. 

Missing teeth don’t just disrupt eating and smiling functions. Unstimulated gum tissue and jawbone begin to decay and cannot be recovered. Our natural teeth and roots stimulate our gums and jawbones, keeping them healthy. Dental bridges do not stimulate gum tissue or jawbone; after the osseointegration process, dental implants interact with and stimulate oral tissue and bone just like our natural teeth! 

Pros and Cons:

 1. Time: Because dental bridges do not require surgery, the time commitment needed to receive a dental bridge is considerably less than that required to place a dental implant.

2. Care: Dental bridges require additional care to keep them clean and well-maintained. Dental implants can be treated and cared for like your natural teeth.

3. Oral Side Effects: Because they sit above the gum line, dental bridges do not stimulate gum and bone tissue. Because dental implants include a replacement root, they do stimulate gum and bone tissue. The placing of a dental bridge requires intrusive preparation and procedure on anchor teeth, adversely affecting your remaining natural teeth. Dental implants do not affect your remaining natural teeth. 

4. Durability: When properly maintained, dental bridges can last between 5-15 years. When properly maintained, dental implants can last for a lifetime.

5. Cost: Because dental bridges don’t require surgery, a single bridge typically costs less than dental implants. However, because dental bridges last for a few years, most patients will require multiple bridges. Eventually the cost of multiple bridges eclipses the cost of a single dental implant. 

Every smile is beautiful, but every mouth is different. If you’d like to fill the gap of a missing tooth, talk to your dentist about the best option for you.

If you do choose to have dental implant surgery, come to SMOMS for a consultation! The surgeons at Southern Maine Oral Surgery excel at placing dental implants–thanks to their surgical skill, the SMOMS Staff, and the unparalleled precision of X-Guide guided implant technology exclusively offered at each SMOMS Office. Talk to your dentist and make your appointment with Southern Maine Oral Surgery.

Tags: , , , , , ,