Implant or bridge? replacing a missing tooth will help you restore your smile, chewing function, and self-confidence. Also, it will prevent the tilting of neighboring teeth, over-eruption of opposite teeth, disturbances in the bite, and negative consequences on the Temporomandibular joint (TMJ). If you have lost one or more teeth, you are faced with the question “Implant or bridge, which one is better?”. In the past, the dental bridge was the only choice. Today, dentists recommend dental implant to replace a missing tooth/teeth. However, the dental implant is not suitable for all patients such as heavy smokers, patients with uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, liver disease, and kidney disease. So, which one is right for you, implant or bridge?
Implant or Bridge: Dental Bridge
To make a dental bridge, the dentist prepares the neighboring teeth of the gap by removing the most of the tooth enamel. Then, he/she covers these teeth with crowns that are connected to a fake tooth (pontic) in between.
Advantages of Dental Bridge
- The bridge procedure usually takes 2-3 weeks.
- There is no surgery.
- The cost of a bridge is usually lower than an implant.
Disadvantages of Dental Bridge
- The healthy neighboring teeth are prepared.
- A bone loss may occur under the bridge (in the extraction site) which may cause the accumulation of food debris in the gap under the bridge and bad breath. Also, it may cause an aesthetic problem.
- Oral hygiene is more difficult with a bridge because it consists of 3 or more connected crowns. So, a special floss is needed to remove the food debris from underneath the bridge.
Implant or Bridge: Dental Implant
The dental implant is an artificial root that is surgically inserted into the jawbone. It is usually made of titanium. The implant has to fuse with the surrounding bone (osseointegration) before the placement of a crown on it. The osseointegration usually takes 3-6 months, depending on the quality of the bone. After healing, the implant performs the same function as the natural tooth root.
Advantages of Dental Implant
- No grinding of the adjacent teeth is needed as it would be in the case of the bridge.
- Implant prevents the bone loss in the extraction site because it performs the same function as the natural tooth root.
- Oral hygiene with the implant is easier than with the bridge.
- Implants last longer than bridges. In more than 90% of the cases, implant last 20 years or longer.
Disadvantages of Dental Implant
- Implantation requires surgical intervention. In certain areas of the jaw, this can lead to complications such as maxillary sinus exposure and nerve damage.
- The implant is more expensive than the bridge.
- If there is an insufficient bone for implantation, the dentist may place a bone graft and this will cost more.
- The treatment usually takes 3-6 months which is longer than the bridge procedure duration.
- It is not suitable for all patients such as heavy smokers, patients with uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, liver disease, and kidney disease.
So, implant or bridge? If the neighboring teeth are healthy and the quality of bone is suitable, an implant is the better choice. If the neighboring teeth have a large restoration or root canal treatment, a bridge may be a better choice. To know which treatment is suitable for you “implant or bridge”, you have to consult your dentist.