"Dental implants offer the best structural stability, anatomical integration, and long-term lifecycle costs."
--- DR. MAMALY RESHAD, DDS
My goal is to help guide each patient toward a tailored solution that is unique to them and will meet their personal needs and wants. In my experience, dental implants will often be the best choice. There are situations though where dental bridges are the right solution.
5 Significant Differences Between Dental Implants and Dental Bridges
Dental implants are directly embedded into your mouth. Dental bridges do not penetrate the surface of your mouth.
Dental implants operate independently of any adjacent teeth. Dental bridges require adjacent teeth for structural support.
Dental implants mimic the roots of teeth and thus provide significant physiological advantages that we will discuss further.
Dental bridges have limited applications. They are not typically used to replace the teeth at the front of the mouth for aesthetic and functional reasons. Dental implants, however, can be used in any position in the mouth.
Dental implants are often more expensive. However, the benefits they provide are, in my professional opinion, well worth the additional expense.
5 Key Considerations Between Dental Implants and Dental Bridges
As the name suggests, a dental implant is physically embedded into the tissues of the mouth. This provides improved stability and long-term viability. This process does involve surgery since there is penetration of the gums and bone tissue.
Anesthetics are often used and a recovery period of up to 6 months or longer may be necessary for complete healing.
Dental bridges do not require invasive surgery, making them better suited for patients who cannot or will not tolerate surgery or the use of anesthetics.
Rather than relying on an implanted post and osseointegration for structural stability, dental bridges use adjacent teeth for support. Dental bridges literally “bridge” the gap formed by a single missing tooth or up to two or three missing teeth. Of course, this bridging has limitations.
To affix a dental bridge properly, adjacent healthy teeth must have their enamel shaved off to allow for the bridge prosthesis to be fitted. Dental implants, on the other hand, operate independently from adjacent teeth and can be placed anywhere in the mouth.
One of the crucial advantages of implant-based solutions is the stimulatory effect implants have on the underlying bone. When patients chew food, the vibrations from mastication are transferred through their teeth and into the jaw via the dental roots.
When tooth loss occurs, that transfer pathway is broken. As a result, the body interprets this lack of physical stimulation as a signal to resorb underlying bone structures which it considers to be no longer needed. This bone resorption for patients suffering from edentulism can result in a shrunken facial appearance, a reduction in the jawline, and thinner jaw bone depth.
Dental implants replace the roots of lost teeth with artificial ones. The implant acts as a conduit for the transfer of stimulating forces, thus allowing for the bone to be retained.
As a result of the independent structure of each individual implant (each replacement tooth has its own implant), dental implants can effectively be placed anywhere in the mouth and replace any tooth.
Dental bridges, on the other hand, are not suitable for the replacement of certain teeth and require that the presence of healthy adjacent teeth for structural support. As a result, dental bridges would not be suitable for an edentulous patient, or a patient with more than three consecutive missing teeth.
There is a significant cost differential between the two teeth replacement treatments.
Considering the crucial advantages dental implants have over dental bridges as well as the more exhaustive nature of the implantation process, it’s no surprise that dental implant procedures can be much more expensive.
A single dental implant can cost $1,000 to as much as $5,000.
In comparison, a traditional cantilever dental bridge that replaces multiple consecutive teeth has about the same price range. Maryland dental bridges cost even less.
For many patients, the budget plays a major role in the decision-making process. However, it is always important to remember when comparing prices for various cosmetic procedures to take into account the long-term life-cycle costs, including the cost of repairs or replacement. It would be a mistake to only look at the initial costs.
5 Advantages of Dental Implants
More resilient and durable
Promotes bone retention
Operates independently of adjacent teeth
4 Disadvantages of Dental Implants
Difficult to replace
Often takes up to 6 months to heal from surgery
More expensive than dental bridges
5 Advantages of Dental Bridges
Easy to execute
More economical in price
Easier and less expensive to repair and replace
4 Disadvantages of Dental Bridges
Cannot be used at the front of the mouth
Bone resorption underneath a dental bridge is common
Dr. Reshad's Recommendation
The argument for dental implants and the reason I recommend an implant-based solution for replacing missing teeth is simple and straightforward. Dental implants offer the best structural stability, anatomical integration, and long-term lifecycle costs.
If you are looking for a permanent solution that offers the same aesthetics and functionality as natural teeth, get an implant-based solution such as conventional individual implants or All-On-4 dental implants.
If you are looking for an aesthetic solution on a tighter budget or do not want to undergo surgery, a dental bridge solution might be right for you. Just remember that bridge treatments come with significant drawbacks, including the risk of bone resorption.
Get Picture Perfect Teeth Today
The most critical factor for a successful result is an experienced and skilled prosthodontist with real-world experience. Dental implant prosthetics must be carefully crafted, fitted, and adjusted for each individual to mimic their natural bite, jaw alignment, and mouth shape. Sizing incorrectly for any of these factors, however slightly, can result in breakage, dysfunction, and damage to your investment. A skilled prosthodontist will minimize these potential complications.
Your smile is your best and most visible asset. It's worth the investment.
DR. MAMALY RESHAD
Advanced Prosthodontics - USC
Chairman - Fixed Prosthodontics and Operative Dentistry