Did you know that around 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth? The risk for tooth loss grows as we age, but damage and decay can make partial or total tooth loss more likely.

If you’re dealing with a missing or damaged tooth, you’re probably grateful for two amazing modern inventions: dental bridges and implants. These prostheses make it easy to get back your oral function and your pearly white smile, though it’s not always easy to tell which to choose.

That’s where we come in! If you’re debating between a dental bridge vs. implant surgery, we’re here to break down everything you should know to make the decision. Read on for more.

Dental Bridge vs Implant: The Basics

Dental bridges and dental implants both help to replace one or more missing teeth. They’re great for filling the gap in your smile and improving your oral comfort and function. However, there are a few key differences between them, so let’s go over the basics of each option.

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are custom crowns that fit over your natural teeth. They can help replace an entire tooth or a series of lost teeth. Your dentist can match their color to the shade of your other teeth.

Unlike partial dentures, which also replace missing teeth, bridges are permanent. A dentist will fix the bridge in place by securing it to the adjoining teeth.

There are several different types of dental bridges.

The traditional dental bridge includes crowns on either end of the artificial tooth or teeth. This makes them one of the stronger options. Cantilever bridges, on the other hand, have a crown on only one end.

A Maryland bridge is an option that secures the bridge in place with metal wings on the backs of your adjoining teeth. These are great for restoring the look of your front teeth, but they aren’t as strong as the styles above.

Last, an implant-supported bridge connects to implants instead of your natural teeth.

Dental Implants

Where bridges sit alongside your natural teeth, dental implants are posts that your dentist will place in your jawbone. This replaces the roots of your natural teeth.

Because the process requires your jawbone to grow back in place around the post, the dental implant procedure can take a while. In most cases, healing can require months. The result, however, is strong and natural-looking teeth.

There are several types of implants. You can get single-tooth, multiple-tooth, or full-mouth dental implants. Your dentist may opt to attach the implant to your jawbone in different ways, with endosteal implants sitting in your jawbone and subperiosteal implants sitting on or above it.

You can also get mini dental implants, a relatively new option. These use smaller, one-piece screws that make them great for people who can’t get traditional implants.

Pros and Cons of Dental Bridges vs Implants

We’ve already hinted at a few of the advantages of bridges and implants. However, if you’re weighing your options, it may help to understand the pros and cons of each.

Pros of Dental Bridges

Dental bridges don’t require surgery or a long period of healing. As a result, you can get them faster than you might get implants.

Bridges are often less expensive than implants up front. In addition, most dental insurance policies will cover the procedure.

Depending on the option you choose, they can be very secure and comfortable. They also look and feel realistic.

Cons of Dental Bridges

Not everyone can get dental bridges. If you have severe bone loss, your dentist may recommend other options.

In addition, bridges don’t last as long as implants. Where bridges may last you 15 years, dental implants often last 25 years or more. In some cases, this can make the cost of ongoing bridge replacements more expensive than the cost of implants.

Pros of Dental Implants

In terms of durability and longevity, implants mimic your natural teeth. Once they’re in place, most people will enjoy them for a lifetime.

Even better, dental implants can stop bone loss. Because the posts replace the tooth’s root, they keep the bone stimulated and prevent degeneration.

Cons of Dental Implants

The cost of dental implants can be high. If you’re replacing most of your teeth, you could pay tens of thousands. However, predictable fees and financing can make this option more affordable.

Implants require invasive surgery. Your dentist will need to place posts into your jawbone, and you’ll need time to heal. You’ll have to go through multiple appointments to finalize your implants, and this timeline can take months.

Which One Should You Get?

Choosing between bridges and implants can be a challenge. The good news is that both of these boost your appearance and oral function in similar ways once you’ve received them. There are no dramatic differences you’ll notice throughout your daily life.

However, you’ll need to figure out your current and long-term priorities to make a decision on the front end.

If durability and a long lifespan are crucial, for example, implants are the safest bet. If cost is more important for now, the low up-front cost of bridges may be more realistic instead.

Keep in mind that bridges and dental implants aren’t a good fit for every mouth. If you have poor dental health or bone loss, your dentist may recommend one option over the other. However, many dentists will recommend implants as the best treatment option, as they support jawbone health, protect tooth integrity, and last for decades.

Talk to Your Dentist Today

If you’re struggling to restore your smile, you don’t have to weigh your options alone. Choosing between a dental bridge vs implant procedure is easier with an experienced dentist on your side. These experts can help you understand which treatment is best for your unique situation.

At Vista Dental, we’re here to help patients understand their options, enjoy excellent care, and walk away with a more confident smile. If you’re on the fence about your options for restorative dentistry, give us a call at (360) 858-2080 today to schedule an appointment or ask questions.