Dentistry has come a long way over the past 50 years. A set of removable dentures used to be the only option for replacing missing teeth. They looked fake and you had to take them out of your mouth when eating certain foods. Both dentists and denture recipients were not happy with the end results.
Modern dentistry has come up with two perfectly viable options to removable dentures: dental bridges and dental implants. Both options will help fill in the gap in your mouth, but only one stands out as a preferred method.
Dental bridges are designed to “bridge” the gap between missing teeth. The bridge itself is made up of ceramic or porcelain which is then fused to metal. The teeth that anchor the bridge are called abutments.
Dentists have been performing dental bridge procedures longer than dental implants. This isn’t to say that dental implants are bad, just that the technology has only recently been perfected to where implants are now the preferred method for a variety of reasons.
Dental insurance plans will also cover the cost of most of the bridgework more often than the cost of implants.
There are a few pros to opting for a dental bridge. It’s a simple procedure in which surgery is not required (unlike implants). This makes getting a bridge a lot less painful than an implant. It’s also a relatively quick procedure. Multiple dental visits may be required as the anchoring teeth sometimes need to be prepared. The average time length between dental office visits is usually around a 1-3 weeks for bridges and in some cases with CEREC technology can be done in one day!
The overall cost of a bridge is more affordable than an implant, yet that shouldn’t be an indication of quality.
There are also a few cons to getting a bridge. They usually only last 5-7 years, or 10 years if you take very good care of them. This means there will be a continual additional cost to the bridges every few years. Taking how much implants cost into account, the overall cost of a bridge in your lifetime can actually wind up costing more than an implant procedure.
Bridges are not as natural looking as implants are. There are some dentists out there who are whizzes with making a bridge work look natural, but at the end of the day there are some minor giveaways that they are not your natural teeth. One of those giveaways is the color. It is sometimes challenging to get your bridge the same color and shade as the other teeth in your mouth. This contrast of color can be easily noticed by people at first glance.
Bridges also damage natural teeth. The adjacent teeth that are used to anchor the bridge need prep work (meaning they need to be filed down so that the bridge will rest comfortably on them).
Unlike dental bridges, dental implants are designed to completely replace the missing tooth. They tend to look completely natural and it is very hard, if not impossible for anyone to tell that they’re not real. Implants have been around for almost 44 years and over that time period the dental industry has perfected the procedure.
Most people tend to opt for implants over bridges, despite the initial cost. Over time the costs will even out, and implants could wind up costing less.
People who have lost teeth or a tooth to periodontal disease or an injury are great candidates for an implant. Those who wish to “set it and forget it” are also another ideal group. If you opt for high quality implants, they can last a literal lifetime.
Implants require little to no maintenance vs. a dental bridge. With a bridge, there will be a tiny gap that food particles can get inside. This requires extra brushing and oral care to prevent issues. If the implants are high quality, they can literally last a life time.
They are also look natural. It has been said that telling the difference between a good dental implant and a normal tooth is impossible. There is one small caveat: implants are part science and part art. You shouldn’t choose a dentist/surgeon based on how much they charge. As with anything in life, you get what you pay for.
Bridges are just that. A bridge between two teeth. Underneath the bridge is no tooth structure. It’s completely hollowed out. This means the jawbone area immediately below the bridge can be put at risk for deterioration. Much like a muscle in the human body, if the jawbone is not used on a regular basis, it can atrophy and become weak. Implants on the other hand stimulate the area and act like a normal tooth, thereby preventing the chance of jawbone decay.
There is also no strain on the surrounding teeth. An implant stands on its own two proverbial feet, while a bridge requires physical support from neighboring teeth.
There are a few minor cons to implants. First off, they require surgery. This means that it will be a bit more painful than getting a bridge. Sometimes patients require a bone graft, which can add a few months onto the overall time it takes to get the implant.
Time is another concern. A bridge only takes a few weeks, while an implant can take multiple months, sometimes longer. On the fast side of things, you’re probably looking at 3 months total time. This assumes there are no complications, everything heals and works as intended.
Cost is also an issue. Due to the surgery, you’re going to wind up paying more money initially for the implant. However, considering that a bridge must be replaced every 5-7 years, the more time goes by, the more cost effective your implant becomes. If you continually have to replace your bridge every 5-7 years, there will come a time when it will wind up costing more money than if you had gotten implants.
When it comes to implants vs. bridges there are pros and cons with both procedures. Implants cost more and time and money. They require a great deal of surgery and skill from the surgeon. However, they tend to look more natural and can last a lifetime if you opt for high quality implants.
Bridges on the other hand are for those people who can’t afford the initial cost of an implant. Most dental insurance companies will cover the cost of bridges, and if taken care of properly, they have been known to last upwards of 10 years. However, 5-7 years is the usual lifespan of a bridge. They won’t look as natural as an implant would, as the colors and shading of your natural teeth might not match up.
If you’re considering a dental implant in the Chicago area, contact us to schedule a no-obligation appointment. One of our expert dentists will give you an examination and let you know what your best options are. At Water Tower Dental Care, Dr. Daniel Aneszko and Dr. Rana Stino will help you get that million-dollar smile that you’ll be proud to show off.