We get a lot of patients who come into our office wanting a dental bridge but leave with dental implants instead. During their first appointment, Dr. Robert Stanley breaks down why dental bridges are an okay method of replacing missing teeth — and why dental implants are that much better. In certain cases, a dental bridge may be perfect for a patient but the vast majority of the time, dental implants are longer-lasting and provide patients with more “bang” for their buck. Here are the top four reasons why we recommend getting dental implants instead of a bridge.
A bridge is uncomparable to implants in terms of strength. While fixed bridges are secured to surrounding teeth (giving the prosthesis some measure of strength), dental implants are bonded directly to the bone located beneath the gums. If the doctor places the implant correctly and the patient follows proper post-op care, the implant will act like a natural tooth for the rest of the patient’s life. That means there are absolutely no restrictions on what the patient can eat, from apples and steak to caramel and gummies. With good maintenance, patients shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between their dental implant and their other teeth.
We regularly have patients come in because their bridge has become loose or has fallen out completely. Sometimes we can recement the bridge but, in other cases, the bridge is too old to save and we have to replace it.
The biggest drawback to dental bridges? They don’t last forever. On average, a dental bridge doesn’t last longer than a decade. If you’re looking for a longterm solution to missing teeth, a dental bridge isn’t it. The cement that holds the crowns in place (which support the bridge) is strong but susceptible to wear over time. After a while, it wears away enough that the crowns can pop off. We can recement the crowns but, in the process of a bridge popping off, it often becomes damaged. This means the patient has to get another bridge made which means spending more money.
Dental implants, on the other hand, are there to stay. If an experienced doctor places the implant, the chances of ever needing to replace it are extremely slim. The materials dental implants are made of are meant to last a long, long time.
Dental bridges seem like a good idea at first. They’re an easy way to replace a missing tooth without forcing the patient to undergo an invasive procedure. The only thing the dentist has to do is prep (remove a thin amount of enamel) the surrounding teeth so that the bridge is properly supported. Two crowns slide over the prepped teeth, allowing the bridge to rest between. All that sounds great until you begin to consider what happens to teeth when you can’t brush them. The crowns that the dentist places over the healthy teeth eventually encourage decay — especially if the said patient doesn’t visit the dentist office regularly. If the once-healthy teeth become too diseased, they might have to be removed, creating an even bigger problem. Without any natural surrounding teeth, a bridge is not possible.
Dental implants don’t require any support from natural teeth. In certain cases, patients have to get a bone graft to make sure the jaw bone is strong enough to keep the implant in the right position. There is never a risk of additional decay of the surrounding teeth with dental implants.
Dentistry is a lot like buying a car. You know that you’ll lose money in the long run if you go for the used-and-abused lemon versus this year’s newest model. The used car might have a cheaper sticker price but in a few months, you’ll be pouring money in just to get it to start up. The new car is pricey but its reliability is unparalleled. Wisely, you decide to get the new car because you don’t want additional car-related expenses down the road.
In our business, we try to encourage our patients to think in a similar vein. A dental bridge is cheaper than a dental implant but, in the long run, it will undoubtedly be more expensive and more time-consuming. If you decide to get a bridge, you’ll be spending more of your time (and your paycheck) on your dental health years down the road.
Can’t afford a dental implant up-front? We offer a variety of financing options to make that initial cost more manageable. If you’re ready to schedule, go ahead and fill out an appointment form and set up a free consultation!