Welcome back, Panama City! Thanks for joining us for the second installment in Dr. Anish Patel’s blog series on bridges vs. implants. Last time, we told you what a bridge and an implant are. Then we explained how implants have a strong, titanium foundation that prevents bone loss, strengthens your bone, and restores your eating and speaking abilities. Today, the team here at Panama City Smiles will continue answering the big question: Which is better, a dental bridge or dental implant? We’ll do this by looking at more pros and cons of each.
A bridge requires removal of healthy teeth, while an implant preserves your teeth.
In the last post, we explained how an implant is placed in your jaw, while a bridge is attached in your mouth using two crowns to support the entire bridge. What we didn’t say is that to place those crowns over your natural teeth, we need to remove part of each tooth itself. This will allow the crown to be made at the same size as your natural tooth and fit snugly over top. (In other words, if we left your natural tooth as is, we would have to make a crown that would be bigger than your tooth so that it could fit – and that would look completely out of place and unnatural!)
Having a bridge is better than leaving the gap in your smile, but removing part of the tooth structure can possibly compromise that remaining tooth’s integrity, health, and strength. If those teeth are compromised, they are more likely to suffer from decay, infection, or even fractures and injury. If they aren’t in good enough shape to keep holding up the bridge, then your bridge may fail.
An implant, on the other hand, preserves your natural teeth. Because it’s actually placed under your gums and integrates with your natural bone, it doesn’t have to attach to a tooth to support the restoration (crown) that will go on top. That means it doesn’t need other teeth to be drilled down or touched at all.
An implant helps retain your oral health more than a bridge does.
We actually just touched on this one, but let’s explain something first. One of the best ways to maintain your oral health is to keep your natural teeth strong and healthy! Even if you’re missing teeth, Dr. Patel and our team will do whatever we can to help maintain the health of the rest of your teeth!
We said that a bridge requires us to remove part of your healthy tooth, which means it won’t be as strong and therefore more susceptible to decay. This also means that if you ever decide you want an implant to replace that tooth in the future, especially after your bridge needs to be replaced, then you will have full, intact teeth showing when the bridge is removed and will need to have more work done to protect them or keep them healthy (a crown or an implant).
When you lose a tooth, you also lose the tooth root and the bone structure underneath (we talked about this in Part 1). Also, your teeth can start shifting around because of the gap left by your missing tooth, which can change your bite or worse, cause loose teeth. You’ll also be more susceptible to gum disease and infection with your gums exposed. This means that any tooth replacement is healthier than leaving a gap in your smile because it can prevent these problems.
An implant, though, is the best tooth replacement option to maintain good health. We already said it prevents bone loss, which means it will help prevent loose teeth and thus other teeth falling out or needing extraction. But the strong titanium root and crown also helps prevent tooth decay (you don’t have a natural tooth there anymore, after all!).
A bridge and implant cannot be removed.
To be clear, there are two types of bridges, fixed and removable. A fixed bridge’s crowns are cemented together and bonded to the teeth on either side of the false tooth. A removable bridge (also known as a removable partial denture) can be taken out for cleaning. Most bridges are fixed and nonremovable, just like implants are a permanent part of your mouth.
A bridge is long-lasting but not permanent like an implant.
Dr. Patel creates high-quality, long-lasting bridges that, if taken care of properly, can last 20 years or more. If you follow our recommendations for cleaning and eating with your bridge, and if you practice good oral hygiene, this is a typical outcome. We said before, though, that a bridge can eventually fail because it can’t withstand the forces of your mouth, it leaves your abutment teeth (those that support the bridge) more susceptible to decay, and it doesn’t stop your bone from deteriorating underneath.
Because of the sturdy, titanium root, implants can last a lifetime. The success rate of implants is about 95 percent and even higher if you continue to take care of your oral health. Some people have had implants for decades with no sign of failure whatsoever.
What Will You Choose?
So today you learned that a bridge doesn’t last as long or have as high a success rate as implants. You also found out that each contributes to good oral health, but that implants have additional health benefits. Join us for our last installment to find out a few more pros and cons to help make your decision! In the meantime, set up a FREE consultation with Dr. Patel to talk about Panama City dental implants and bridges in person!