By Natalia Courtois on Jun 29, 2018 @ 12:00 PM
Missing a tooth or two is often seen as a negative reflection on your oral health. However, there are many things that can cause you to lose a tooth or two. It can depend on your lifestyle, eating habits, or possibly even trauma. If you are missing a tooth and you’re tired of that empty gap, you’re probably wondering… Do I need a bridge or an implant? Many don’t know the difference between the two, so here is a rundown of what you need to know:
What Are the Main Differences?
- Implant: Titanium metal pieces are inserted into the jawbone. Once the bone and implant fuse, a crown restoration occurs to finish the prosthetic tooth procedure. The adjacent teeth are not affected, and the implants will not decay, leaving only a small possibility of gum disease.
- Bridge: A tooth replacement is attached with a metal frame or porcelain to adjacent natural teeth. Each tooth replacement demands a three-unit bridge.
- Caution: Some enamel will be removed from the healthy tooth, which increases the possibility of tooth infection.
Do I Need to Worry About Bone Loss?
- Implant: For prevention of extra bone loss at the extraction site, implant is the way to go. The implant actually stimulates bone material growth to help maintain healthy facial structure.
- Caution: If your tooth has been missing for multiple years, there will not be enough bone remaining in the area, which demands a bone graft to ensure enough bone resides for a successful operation.
- Bridge: If the implant would be close to a sinus or nerve canal, a bridge might be the better option because an implant runs the risk of damaging your sinuses or nerves.
What About the Surrounding Teeth?
- Implant: If you’ve suffered from gum disease, it might have created bone loss and weakened the adjacent teeth. If so, an implant represents the better choice.
- Bridge: Adjacent teeth must be strong enough to support the replacement tooth. If the surrounding teeth have crowns, the crown’s durability will help support a bridge.
Does It Matter Which Teeth Are Problematic?
- Implant: If your back teeth are the problem, implants could be the better choice since the metallic root won’t be visible.
- Bridge: For cosmetic reasons, the bridge is the best option. Bridges prevent visibility of any artificial roots in the gums of the front teeth.
How Long Will It Take?
- Implant: Implants can take up to four to 10 months. The roots need about four months to grow around the titanium root. However, if you require a bone graft, tack on another six months for it to fuse with the jawbone.
- Bridge: The time frame for getting a bridge is significantly shorter. Once the dentist completes the extraction, you’re on your way home with a temporary bridge. Usually, within three months the extraction site heals then you can get your permanent bridge.
Which Lasts Longer?
- Implant: These can last a lifetime. They are much more durable than bridges, as the titanium material fuses with your jawbone—and the metal resists decay and gum problems.
- Bridge: If lucky, you will get ten years out of your bridge. Since some of your natural teeth remain beneath the bridge, normal wear and tear—coupled with the possibility of decay and gum problems, the bridge will eventually fail.
How Much Will This Cost Me?
- Implant: An implant will cost around $3600 to $4800.
- Bridge: Not only is a bridge faster, but it's also less expensive. A bridge costs between $2700 to $4800.
Regardless of your decision, one thing is for sure if you choose to get a dental implant or bridge. Both procedures will require multiple dental visits, follow-ups and money. A dental plan will go a long way in covering some of the costs for the visits and procedures. At the very least, there are dental plans that will cover routine visits at little to no cost and can pay itself off with one to two visits. Find out which plan will be the best for your needs now by taking our quiz!