Implants vs. Dental Bridges: Pros and Cons of Both

Dental implants vs. dental bridges

Dental Implants vs. Dental Bridges

Your oral health can directly impact your overall health. Unhealthy teeth, when left untreated, can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. When adults lose teeth, the natural thing to do is look for tooth replacement options. Implants and dental bridges are popular treatments for missing teeth, but what’s better, dental implants or dental bridges? Here are the pros and cons of each.

Reasons for Restorative Treatment

If you have experienced tooth loss, your dentist might recommend dental implants or a dental bridge. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 2.2% of adults in the U.S. between the ages of 20 to 64 years have no remaining teeth. This indicates that of the roughly 258.3 million adults in the country, over 5.5 million have no remaining teeth. The statistics are staggering. But what are the reasons for tooth loss in the first place? 

1. Gum Disease

Gum disease is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults, caused by a buildup of plaque below the gumline. Plaque is a sticky, bacteria-containing substance that is harmful to the health of your gums.

2. Cavities 

Cavities are holes in your teeth created by bacteria and acid. Untreated cavities can destroy the pulp in the center of your tooth, leading to the need for extraction if a root canal is not an option. You can prevent cavities by practicing good oral hygiene at home, eating healthy, tooth-friendly foods, and seeing your dentist every six months for a professional dental cleaning and evaluation.

3. Dental Trauma

Accidents happen. You may trip and fall or get injured during a flag football game. But you can also cause dental trauma by using your teeth as tools to open packaging, etc. Be cautious with your teeth, and don’t use them for anything besides biting, chewing, or speaking.

4. Various Illnesses

Besides gum disease, certain illnesses and risk factors can increase your likelihood of premature tooth loss: 

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Poor nutrition
  • Tobacco use

And as we suggested above, failing to replace missing teeth can cause health issues. Specifically, tooth loss in adults can cause:

  • Trouble speaking and eating
  • Teeth shifting to fill the empty area
  • An irregular bite
  • Bone loss 
  • Gum disease
  • Further tooth loss

How Dental Implants and Bridges Work

Dental implants are titanium posts that your dentist or oral surgeon implants into your jawbone. They are a common restorative dental treatment designed to support artificial teeth, such as crowns, bridges, or dentures, and effectively restore both your smile and ability to chew.

There are many advantages to dental implants vs. other tooth replacement options:

  • They can last your entire lifetime.
  • They look, feel, and function just like your natural teeth.
  • Though implants can be expensive up front, they are the most cost-effective tooth replacement option.
  • You can replace as many teeth as you need to.

However, as with any treatment, dental implants have potential disadvantages:

  • The restoration on top (usually a dental crown) can wear out over time, requiring replacement.
  • If you don’t have sufficient bone, you may need a bone graft prior to treatment.
  • They have a higher up-front cost.
  • The process for implants is time-consuming, spanning several months.

On the other hand, dental bridges are false teeth (called pontics) traditionally held in place by crowns on either side of the gap left by your missing tooth. Bridges are usually porcelain to create an aesthetically pleasing appearance and  look just like your natural teeth. When referring to a dental bridge, this is the type most people think of. But there are other types of dental bridges, too, including an implant-supported bridge that combines the best that dental implants and dental bridges have to offer.

An implant-supported bridge typically requires two to three appointments: the first procedure to surgically embed the implants into the jawbone, and the other procedures to take impressions for the bridge and then seat the bridge itself. This all said, there are many benefits to dental bridges.

  • Bridges do not require surgery (unless you get an implant-supported bridge).
  • Up-front costs for a dental bridge are less expensive than dental implants.
  • A dental bridge is more secure than a denture, which means no uncomfortable or embarrassing slippage.
  • They look and feel more natural than dentures.
  • Dental bridges can serve as a stepping stone to dental implants later.

And, just as with dental implants, there are also some disadvantages:

  • Traditional bridges require alteration of healthy teeth.
  • Bridges don’t correct bone loss or stimulate new bone growth.
  • Bridges have a shorter lifetime than implants, lasting around 10 years with good oral health.

Contact the best dentist in Lawton to find out more about dental implants vs. dental bridges.

If you have experienced tooth loss and want to make a change to improve your oral health, it’s time to explore tooth replacement options. And whatever you choose, dental implants or a dental bridge, your smile will come out healthier. Contact Sheppard Family Dental Care today and request an appointment. We look forward to helping you choose the right solution so you can love your smile again.