Dental Implant vs. Bridge
Frequently our patients are faced with the question, “Should I choose a dental implant or a bridge?” There are a lot of factors that go into answering this question. Let’s start with the basics.
When would I need a bridge or dental implant?
When you are missing a single tooth both a dental implant and a bridge can be used to replace it. We make a bridge by placing a crown on the two teeth beside the missing tooth and attaching a false tooth tin between both crowns. A dental implant is a small titanium post that goes into the jaw to support a crown where you are missing the tooth. The simplicity of a dental implant is that it only affects the area where the tooth is missing. The bridge replaces the missing tooth and also requires dental work on the adjacent teeth. If the teeth beside the missing tooth don’t need dental work then it is often better for your teeth to have a dental implant. If the teeth beside the missing tooth need a lot of dental work, a bridge may be a very good solution.
How long does it take?
When a bridge is made, we prepare the two teeth that will have crowns (a crown is sometimes called a cap) and then an impression is made. After sending the impression to the lab our technician carefully custom makes the bridge. At the next appointment we secure the bridge to the prepared teeth using a special dental cement. It take about two weeks for the bridge to be made and usually less than two hours for the teeth to be prepared and the bridge to be put on the teeth. The big advantage of the bridge is that it takes a short amount of time. Usually we make a temporary bridge to wear while the lab making the bridge.
A dental implant is placed through the gums into the bone in a simple procedure that usually takes less than an hour. The jaw is then allowed to heal and integrate into the implant for at least eight weeks. At this time an impression is made of your teeth and the dental implant. We then send the impression to the lab where the crown is made. The crown is ready three weeks later to be attached to the implant. This takes a bit longer than a bridge. The big advantage with the dental implant is that it doesn’t affect the teeth beside the missing tooth.
How long will it last?
A well cared for bridge can often last more than ten or twenty years. I’ve seen bridges lasting as long as thirty years, but this is uncommon. The number one reason that a bridge doesn’t last is that a cavity may develop on one of the teeth supporting it, but cavities are 100% preventable with proper home care and regular dental hygiene visits.
A dental implant and crown will often last more than twenty years. It is not uncommon for my patients to have implants doing well for more than thirty years.
Both dental implants and bridges are excellent options for replacing one missing tooth. In the majority of cases a dental implant is the best long-term option, but as noted a well cared for bridge can provide excellent function for many years. It’s best to discuss your unique situation with us. Give us a call to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Brad Bishop