You see billboards about dental implants wherever you drive and have more than a few friends who are extolling the virtues of their new implants. There’s no doubt that dental implants are fast becoming a popular choice for replacing missing teeth — with five million implants placed each year in the United States.
Still, you should know that dental bridges haven’t gone anywhere, and about 15 million people get crown and bridge tooth replacements each year.
To help with your decision, Dr. Colin Au, Dr. Jeff Yoshihara, and the rest of the team here at Peninsula Dental Excellence review a few of the pros and cons of both dental implants and dental bridges and why there are times when implants may not be the best choice.
The workhorses of restorative dentistry
When discussing restorative dentistry, we’re referring to techniques that fix and/or replace damaged teeth. Some true workhorses in this area of dentistry are dental implants and dental bridges, and each option excels in helping to restore form and function to your mouth.
With a bridge, we replace missing teeth with prosthetic teeth, which we secure to neighboring teeth for stability. Bridges aren’t removable and offer a great way to help you smile, chew, and talk with ease again.
Dental implants are considered a superior choice for replacing missing teeth because we implant a post in your jawbone that, for all intents and purposes, creates a new “root.”
This root signals to your body that the area is still active, encouraging new bone growth. This is important because when you lose a tooth and its roots, you will likely experience bone loss — you can lose up to 50% of the bone width in the area where your socket is located in the first year.
An implant can halt this bone loss, while a dental bridge cannot because we’re only replacing the tooth above your jawbone.
Another reason why many people prefer dental implants is that they can last a lifetime. Once we implant the post, bone grows up and around it, fusing it into place. You may have to replace the crown we place over the implant periodically, but the implant should stay put.
A dental bridge also offers a long-term solution, but perhaps not quite as long — bridges last, on average, about 5-15 years.
As you can see, dental implants have advantages over dental bridges and are often the preferred option.
When a dental bridge might be best
While dental implants may excel in many areas, there are a few factors that can make dental bridges a better choice, such as:
If you’ve already lost a fair amount of bone, we might have to perform a bone graft if you want a dental implant. There are also times when the bone loss is too great and beyond our ability to use bone grafts, in which case a dental bridge will be your best option.
Dental implants can take time as we need to wait for the implant to fuse into place before we place the crown. This timeline only increases if we need to perform a bone graft first. We can have your replacement teeth in just one or two visits with a dental bridge.
Dental implants are more expensive than dental bridges, and this difference only grows greater if we have to do bone grafts.
If you want to help determine which option is best for your tooth replacement needs and your budget, contact our Mountain View, California, to schedule a consultation.