What’s Better? Implants vs Bridges

What’s Better? Implants vs Bridges

If you’ve lost a tooth due to injury or decay, it’s very important to fill the gap as soon as possible because missing teeth can lead to alignment problems and other oral health complications. Implants and bridges are two of the most common tooth replacement options, and while each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, both will help restore your full, bright smile. Here’s an overview of the options to help you decide which is best for you:

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a complete tooth replacement from root to crown. During the procedure, a titanium screw is implanted into the jawbone, which will eventually fuse with the metal for maximum strength and durability. The screw is topped with an abutment piece and a customized and color-matched porcelain crown. 

Advantages of dental implants

Dental implants are the strongest and longest-lasting tooth replacement option, and they look, feel and function just like natural teeth. Implants can last for decades if cared for properly, and the initial success rate for implants is very high, around 97 percent. But the most important advantage of dental implants is how they prevent bone loss—without a tooth root in place, the jawbone around the missing tooth will start to deteriorate and affect the alignment and health of your surrounding teeth. Dental implants not only provide a strong anchor within the jawbone, but like a natural tooth root, they also stimulate jawbone growth.

Disadvantages of dental implants

The main disadvantage of dental implants is that they are the most expensive option for tooth replacement upfront, and many dental insurance policies will not cover them because it’s considered a cosmetic procedure. Another disadvantage of implants is the time commitment involved. The procedure requires several initial consultations and planning appointments, and after the surgery, you will have to wait three to six months for the screw to fuse with the jawbone before your permanent crown can be fitted. 

What is a dental bridge?

A dental bridge fills the gap from a missing tooth with a prosthetic tooth that is anchored by dental crowns attached to the adjacent teeth, making a “bridge.” The procedure dental bridge is less invasive than the procedure for dental implants, but it does require alterations to the adjacent teeth in order to fit the crowns. 

Advantages of dental bridges

The procedure for dental bridges is minimally-invasive, and it does not require extensive healing time or additional procedures like bone grafts or sinus lifts, which is not uncommon with dental implants. Dental bridges are also much more affordable than dental implants upfront, and the lower costs are also typically covered by dental insurance, making it one of the most accessible options for tooth replacement.


Disadvantages of dental bridges

Dental bridges do not last as long as dental implants, as they will need to be replaced about every five to seven years. Bridges also tend to look less natural as time goes on, and they bring an increased risk of cavities and tooth decay to the surrounding teeth. The procedure involves significantly filing down the surrounding teeth in order to fit the crown, and as a result, bacteria can more easily infiltrate the area and cause decay. Additionally, because dental bridges do not replace the tooth root, they do not support jawbone health. 

The cost difference between dental implants and bridges

The cost of a dental implant includes the screw, abutment, crown and surgery, for a total cost averaging about $3,000-$4,500 per tooth. If you need additional procedures beforehand, such as a bone graft, sinus lift, tooth extraction, or treatment for gum disease, the total cost will be higher. Also, most dental insurance policies consider implants to be cosmetic, and so will not cover any portion of the cost.

The cost of a dental bridge, including the full prosthetic tooth and crowns for the surrounding teeth, can range from $1,000-$3,000 per tooth. However, that is the cost before insurance, and most insurance policies will cover some portion of cost.

How to choose between dental implants and bridges

The best tooth replacement option for you will depend on a variety of factors, including the cost and time commitment, and also how healthy you are overall. Only people healthy enough for surgery can undergo a dental implant procedure. Another factor to consider is how many missing teeth you need to be replaced. If you have more than one missing tooth, dental bridges are a more affordable option, but there are also implant-supported bridges available that are more expensive but last longer than traditional bridges.

Dental implants and bridges in San Diego

If you have a missing tooth and you aren’t sure which replacement option is best for you, the experienced team at University Dental can answer all your questions and help you make the best decision for your budget and overall goals. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call us at (619) 582-4224.

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