Missing teeth can disrupt your everyday life, affecting your confidence, your appearance and your health. Whether you’ve lost teeth because of tooth decay, gum disease or injury, it’s a good idea to replace your missing teeth as soon as possible.
Two of the best dental solutions for replacing missing teeth are dental bridges and implants. These solutions can give you back your confidence and prevent further dental problems from occurring. But what’s the difference between these treatments and which is the right option for you?
What’s the Difference between Dental Bridges and Implants?
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots planted into your jawbone, just like a natural tooth root. Implants are used to support individual false teeth (crowns), or they work in conjunction with dental bridges, with implants providing the support for the bridge.
Dental bridges, on the other hand, replace teeth, not tooth roots — they don’t integrate with the jawbone. The replacement teeth sit on top of the gums, anchored in place with crowns placed on two or more surrounding teeth, on either side of the missing tooth/teeth. Bridges can replace a single tooth or multiple teeth on one side of the mouth.
Should You Choose Dental Bridges or Implants?
While dental bridges and implants can work alongside each other, most patients will opt for one or the other. So if you’re looking for the best solution for you, here are the pros and cons of implants and bridges compared.
The Appearance of Dental Bridges vs Implants
When replacing your missing teeth, you want to choose a solution that’s going to help you look your best. Both dental implants and bridges will create a full and stunning smile, and whichever option you choose, your dentist will match the colour of your replacement teeth to your natural tooth colour.
However, dental implants can look more natural than bridges. Replacement teeth rooted with an implant fit seamlessly against your gums, whereas dental bridges don’t have such a natural fit.
Which Is the More Comfortable Solution?
It’s not just your appearance you need to consider when deciding between implants and bridges. Your replacement teeth need to be comfortable so you can eat, talk and smile without any discomfort.
Dental implants are the more comfortable of these solutions, as once fitted they feel just like natural teeth. They won’t slip and they’re as strong as natural teeth, so you can eat your favourite snacks, no matter how crunchy or chewy, without worrying.
Dental bridges can still be comfortable solutions. Made with porcelain, they feel like natural teeth, and they should fit comfortably in your mouth. However, it can take a little while to get used to a bridge and it can put extra strain on the abutment teeth.
Dental Implants vs Bridges for Bone Structure
When you lose a tooth, the bone underneath is no longer stimulated by the force of chewing and you can start to lose bone density. Both dental bridges and implants will prevent bone loss, but dental implants will encourage bone growth.
Dental implants are made with titanium, a biocompatible material. So when implants are placed into the jawbone, the bone starts to fuse with the implant as it would with a natural tooth root. This process can strengthen the structure of your jawbone, providing your new teeth with a strong and supportive base.
The Cost of Dental Bridges vs Implants
Dental bridges are a more affordable solution than implants, making them a more popular choice for patients on a budget. While a dental bridge costs around £400 per tooth, a single dental implant will cost approximately £1800.
However, dental implants may be more a cost-effective solution as they’re longer-lasting than dental bridges. Bridges can last between five and fifteen years, whereas dental implants usually last around 25 years, but can last a lifetime with a good dental care routine.
It may also be possible to spread the cost of your dental treatment, making either option an affordable solution.
Dental Bridge and Implant Procedures Compared
To fit a dental implant, your dentist will make an incision in your gum and then create a small hole in your jawbone. The implant fits into this hole and over three to six months, your bone will fuse with the implant, making it as strong as a natural tooth root. Once the implant has fused, your dentist will fit a permanent crown or bridge and your smile is restored.
The dental bridge procedure is less invasive and faster than the fitting of dental implants. Your dentist will identify teeth either side of your missing teeth to provide the support for the bridge. These teeth are then filed down so the crowns can be fitted.
Your dentist will then take impressions of the filed down teeth and the gap left by the missing teeth. These impressions create your bridge. Once the bridge is made, your dentist will fit it using dental cement to fix the crowns to the abutment teeth.
If you’re ready to restore your smile, or you need a little help deciding between bridges and implants, our dentists are here to help. Simply book a consultation to get the ball rolling, and we’ll have your smile back to its former glory in no time.