Dental Bridge vs. Implant: Which is Right for Me?

Apr 03, 2024
Dental Bridge vs. Implant: Which is Right for Me?
If you’re missing one or just a few teeth, dentures are out as a tooth-replacement system. Now, you’re left with choosing between a dental bridge or dental implants. Which one is best for your particular situation?

Whether you lost a tooth to extraction or trauma, you need to replace it as soon as possible to preserve your oral health and appearance. Each tooth helps keep the others in alignment, so you need to close that “gap” to keep your other teeth healthy and straight.

If you’re missing an entire or nearly entire arch of teeth, dentures might be the most expedient and cost-effective method of replacing your teeth. But if you’re missing just a few teeth or even a single tooth, your best choices are between dental implants and a dental bridge

Addie Chang, DMD, an experienced family dentist, offers both implants and bridges at her practice in Tukwila, Washington. She knows how important tooth replacement is for overall oral health but also understands that choosing the best type can be overwhelming.

Would a dental bridge or implant be best for you? The following guide may help you decide.

You want the best … no matter what

If you’re determined to find the absolute best way to replace one or more missing teeth, you want dental implants. Dental implants are customized, individually crafted false teeth attached to false roots that mimic the form and function of natural teeth.

Dental implants continue to grow in popularity. By 2026, it’s estimated that up to 23% of tooth replacements could be implants. 

Even though dental implants are the most functional type of tooth replacement, most insurance plans consider them “cosmetic.” So, if you opt for dental implants, you may have to pay out of pocket. However, our team works with you to set up a payment plan so you can get the tooth or teeth you desire and deserve.

You want to preserve your jawbone

The main functional advantage of a dental implant over a dental bridge (or dentures, for that matter) is that they not only look like real teeth but also “behave” like real teeth. Your natural teeth have deep roots that extend into your jawbone to anchor them in place.

One result of the way your teeth are set into your jaws is that when you chew your food, the impact of that mechanical stress is felt in your jawbone, too. The stress signals your jawbone to create new bone cells so that your jaws stay strong and healthy.

However, if you have a dental bridge or dentures, they rest on the surface of your gums and don’t convey healthy stress to your jawbone. The bone cells don't replenish themselves without the signals they’re used to getting from tooth roots.

Over time, your jawbone starts to atrophy. In other words, “use it or lose it.” Without natural teeth or dental implants, your lower face may shorten due to a lack of new jawbone cells. 

You don’t want surgery

If you don’t like the idea of implanting false titanium roots into your jawbone, you might be best served by a dental bridge. Even though a bridge won’t exert healthy stress on your jaw, it can be an aesthetically pleasing and cost-effective way to replace your missing teeth.

We attach the false teeth in your bridge in one of two different ways. For most dental bridges, we modify (i.e., grind down) the two teeth on either side of your gap. These teeth serve as the anchors to the bridge.

We cap the modified abutment (i.e., anchoring) teeth with customized dental crowns (i.e., false tooth caps) that are attached to the false teeth we’ve created for you. Without the need for surgery, you now have a secure tooth replacement. In most cases, your insurance pays for a bridge.

Even if you’d prefer dental implants, a bridge might best serve you. If your jawbone has already atrophied due to aging or other reasons, you might not have enough healthy bone to accept implants. A bone graft could help build up your jaw enough for implants, but it won’t work in all cases.

Whether you’ve chosen your tooth replacement system yet or not, if you need to replace a tooth or teeth, contact our team by phone or the online form for a consultation today. We help you find the best tooth replacement that serves all of your present and future needs.