When a person suffers a missing tooth, it’s good to know that they have several options open to them. Of course the gold standard of treatment is a dental implant, but could a dental bridge do an equally effective job? The simple answer is yes and of course, it’s considerably cheaper, but is it really the best option? Should you choose a dental bridge or implant to replace a missing tooth?
The truth is that in the great dental bridge vs implant debate they both have their pros and cons. So with this in mind, the best thing to do is to dive into the practicalities of each to help you to make an informed dental decision.
Firstly dental bridges…
Conventional dental bridges have been used in dentistry for many hundreds of years. While the materials used may have changed, the principle remains the same. Adjacent teeth either side of the gap are reshaped to support a framework which holds the spanning prosthetic tooth. Once in position a dental bridge restores chewing function and completes the look of a smile.
Now for the dental bridges pros and cons…
We’ve already mentioned that conventional bridges are cheaper to fit than dental implants and in many cases by as much as 50%. So initial spend is less. However the shelf life of a conventional dental bridge is usually only around 10 -15 years, whereas one of the main advantages of dental implants over bridges, is the longevity factor.
So how long does a dental implant last?
We know with some certainty that they have the capacity to last for over 40 years. This is because the very first dental implant patient had their implants until their death some 41 years later. While this may be an exceptional case, we can say with some certainty that if cared for, dental implants can easily last twice as long as a dental bridge.
One area where a dental bridge does fair better is in the time taken to fit. So how long does it take to get a dental bridge?
On average, most dentists will fit a bridge in just 2-3 visits spanning several weeks. This is from initial consultation to walking out with your new smile. So if you’re after a quick fix solution to a gappy problem, then you may want to go down this route as you’ll save both on time and initial cost.
Now here’s where it gets a little complicated…
In order to fit a dental bridge adjacent teeth either side of the gap will need to be reshaped so that they can take the framework that supports the bridging tooth. This may mean that any healthy teeth become compromised in the future and this is something patients need to bear in mind. Conversely a dental implant doesn’t need any other teeth to support it and in fact, because it’s anchored directly into the jawbone, any adjacent teeth can remain uncompromised.