Tooth loss is more common than you might think. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, an estimated 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and about 40 million Americans are missing all of their teeth. While there are many restorative treatments for tooth loss, we will focus on dental bridges and implants in this article.

While dental bridges or implants will both restore your smile to normal, both treatments are different from one another. We have assembled this brief guide to explain the major differences between the two. Hopefully, it will help you decide what would be the better option to discuss with your dentist in Palo Alto.    

The difference between implants and bridges

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, about 3 million people in the U.S. receive 5.5 million implants yearly. This is a number that is rapidly growing each year. 

Basically, a dental implant is an artificial post (mostly made from titanium) that is inserted into a patient’s jawbone and left to Osseo-integrate or fuse with the adjacent bone. Once that has occurred, your dentist attaches an abutment to the post-frame and then cements a crown on top, completing the entire procedure. 

On the other hand, as the name suggests, a dental bridge is used to bridge the gap left by a missing tooth or teeth. It uses one or more adjacent teeth as an anchor on which to attach a crown (that takes up the space of the missing tooth). The anchoring teeth are known as abutment teeth, while the false teeth that lie in between are known as pontics.  

Here is a useful graphic to help you visualize the differences between implants & bridges.

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Implants vs. Bridges: A comparison 

It is worth noting that, regardless of the above differences, your decision to opt for bridges or dental implants in Palo Alto will depend on your medical or oral health, your budget, and your lifestyle. So, read on to find out more.  

Time Factor

How soon do you need your teeth replaced? Dental bridges are a popular option because of the speed at which the replacement takes place. The best dentists in Palo Alto would require you to make no more than two visits to their clinic. The initial visit is meant for consultation and impression taking. The second visit is usually for the fitting of the bridge.  

In contrast, a dental implant procedure requires several stages and might take 3-9 months from start to finish, depending on the complexity of your case.

Eligibility/restrictions on candidacy 

There is extensive research available on the installation of implants in adults; however, there is a shortage of data available on the same for adolescents and children. Most dentists are concerned about the “growth spurts” linked to the maxilla and mandible and recommend they (children) wait until 16 to consider implants.   

You also need to be pretty healthy to undergo an implant procedure. If you have a blood disease, a thyroid problem, or suffer from leukemia or diabetes, there is a higher probability of implant failure. Additionally, if you are a smoker, you will be advised to quit during the treatment period. 

Bridges, on the other hand, are generally suitable for adolescents. However, they do require you to have healthy adjoining teeth that will need to be ground to anchor the bridge. If you suffer from tooth decay, gum disease, or have chipped or cracked teeth, you might need to undergo additional dental treatment before the teeth are healthy enough to support a bridge.   

Comparing the cost

Bridges are a less expensive solution than dental implants, making them a preferable option for many patients.  A bridge costs about $500 – $1,200 per tooth, while a single tooth implant can cost around $2,200.  Most insurance plans cover bridges, but that is not the case with implants.  

That said, implants may be a more economical solution in the long run as they are more durable than bridges. Dental bridges can last around ten years. On the other hand, implants can last about 25 years or even a lifetime as long as you observe a proper dental care routine.  

The functionality and oral health impact 

When restoring your teeth, you want to pick a treatment option that will help you look and function better. Both dental bridges and dental implants will help you attain a striking smile, and whichever option you prefer, you will be happy with the outcome.  

However, dental implants in Palo Alto may be a slightly preferable option when you consider the appearance, functionality, and overall oral health aspect. Dental implants not only closely resemble your natural roots but also help maintain your jawbone, which is a vital factor to consider. Because dental implants replace the entire tooth, not just the visible part of your tooth, and are rooted in the jawbone, they help prevent bone atrophy, strengthen the jawbone, and may even stimulate the bone to grow. By maintaining and stimulating the growth of the jawbone, implants actually help preserve the shape of your mouth and face and also help maintain proper chewing function.

In addition, dental bridges require the healthy adjoining teeth to be contoured and reshaped into tooth stubs that allow for the crown to be mounted on top. This causes loss of healthy tooth tissue and the adjoining teeth can weaken over time leading to damaged teeth, requiring longer bridges or other restorative procedures in the long run. 

Which is the more comfortable option? 

Besides enhancing your appearance and function, your replacement teeth should be comfortable so you can talk, smile, and eat without discomfort. 

Implants not only replicate the natural look of your teeth and offer the same function as natural teeth, they are also more comfortable and studier when compared to dental bridges. Once fitted, implants feel just like natural teeth. They are strong, so you can enjoy your favorite snack, regardless of how chewy or crunchy it is, without worrying about your tooth chipping or cracking.  

Bridges can also be a comfortable solution. Made with porcelain, they feel like natural teeth and usually fit well in the mouth. A good dentist will be able to provide you with a very comfortable dental bridge solution. Contact our dentists at Cambridge Dental Studio to discuss if dental bridges are a good solution for your dental needs.

Conclusion: Implants vs. bridges 

Both implants and bridges are great solutions to missing teeth. While bridges are a comfortable, fast, and budget-friendly solution, implants provide a studier and longer-lasting option with cosmetic and long-term oral health benefits. 

We hope this post has cleared up most of the key differences between the two treatments. If you are still indecisive on which procedure you should opt for – implants vs. bridges – contact our Palo Alto dentists at Cambridge Dental Studio. Our friendly dentists are here to answer all your questions, do a thorough medical evaluation, and discuss your financial options to suggest the best procedure for you.