Nobody likes to have a gap created by a missing tooth. It takes a toll on the confidence and self-esteem of the person. Moreover, missing teeth can lead to misalignment of teeth or even dental infections. Therefore, it is essential to replace the missing tooth with a dental prosthesis. Typically, there are two solutions for replacing missing tooth space – dental implant or dental crown and bridge.
A dental implant is a surgical dental procedure that involves the placement of a titanium screw in the jaw bone that acts as the tooth root. On the other hand, dental crown and bridge replace the missing tooth space by taking support from the adjacent teeth.
Both treatments have their own set of benefits and disadvantages. A dentist carefully interprets the dental condition of the patient to determine the best treatment plan. Today’s article will highlight the comparison of a dental implant with a crown and bridge. Moreover, we will look at the pros and cons of each treatment.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is typically a metal device that is surgically placed into the jaw bone. It is generally used to replace one or more missing teeth in the dental arch. A titanium post is commonly used as the base of the implant prosthesis – it acts as the tooth root. (1)
Osseo-integration is a process of bone fusion around the titanium post. Once this process of Osseo-integration is completed, the implant is then covered with a crown, bridge, or removable denture. Some of the benefits of implants include the following –
- The natural tooth-like appearance
- High success rate
- Preserves the bone height and structure
- Prevents bone loss
- Resistant to gum problems and tooth decay (3)
- Easy to clean regularly
While there are several benefits of implants, let’s look at the disadvantages implants have –
- It is an invasive procedure that requires drilling in the jaw bone
- The process of implant placement and healing can take up to 3-6 months
- Surgical techniques can impose a threat to the surrounding structures
- The patient may feel distressed after the procedure (4)
- Implants are expensive
- Some cases may require additional bone grafts to place the implant
What are a crown and bridge?
Dental crown and bridge is a fixed dental prosthesis that is typically used to replace one or more missing teeth. It consists of artificial teeth supported by a dental crown on each end. The crown is fixed on the adjacent teeth, and the missing tooth space is filled with the pontics – artificial teeth.
Implants can also support a dental crown and bridge on both ends. Some of the benefits of dental crown and bridge may include the following –
- Unlike implants, it is a non-surgical procedure. A dental crown and bridge can straightaway replace the missing tooth space without the need for bone drilling or bone graft procedures.
- The process is less time taking and can be completed in two to three appointments.
- Dental crown and bridge are comparatively economical (5)
- The patient can easily adjust with the prosthesis in a day or two
Some of the disadvantages of dental crown and bridge are listed below –
- Aesthetics of dental crown and bridge may be less appealing as compared to the implant
- Placement of dental crown and bridge requires support from the adjacent teeth. Moreover, they can increase the strain over the surrounding tissue. (6)
What are the factors that determine the choice between the two?
It is essential to always consult the dentist before choosing between the two treatments. Some of the crucial factors that you must consider while deciding between dental implant or crown and bridge are as follows –
Aesthetics of the prosthesis
A dental bridge is usually made from pure ceramic, porcelain, metal, or porcelain fused with metal. Aesthetics are superior to pure ceramic. However, the other varieties may not match the aesthetics of an implant. Implants are commonly covered by ceramic crowns that are highly aesthetic and provide a natural tooth-like appearance. (7)
A dental bridge typically requires two to three sessions for completion. However, dental implants may require a longer time that may sum up to 3-6 months for proper osseointegration and healing. Therefore, the decision usually depends on the patient’s co-operation and willingness to wait.
Protection of the adjacent teeth
Dental implants preserve the natural tooth structure as they do not take support from the adjacent teeth as compared to dental crown and bridge. On the other hand, the dental bridge requires tooth preparation and trimming of the adjacent teeth.
Durability and maintenance
Dental implants are made from titanium posts and are resistant to gum disease and tooth decay. This increases the durability of the implants up to 10-20 years of even lifetime if taken care of properly. (8)
The design of a dental bridge typically depends on the dental health of the abutment teeth. Severe dental conditions can lead to failure of the dental bridge in the long run.
The cost of dental implants is usually higher than that of the dental crown or bridge. Typically, it may range between $2000 – $4500 per implant. Whereas the dental crown and bridge are economical and may cost around $1500 – $2000 for a three-unit bridge.
Take away message
Dental implants are usually made from titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jaw bone for the replacement of missing teeth. However, completion of the implant procedure takes a long time, and the treatment is expensive.
On the other hand, the dental bridge is also used for the replacement of missing teeth. However, this process requires the trimming of the adjacent teeth. A dental bridge consists of a unit with a dental crown on either end that is fixed on the abutment teeth for support.
Both dental implant and dental bridge have their own set of benefits and disadvantages that can help to determine the ideal selection. It is best to discuss with your dentist about the best course of treatment. A trained dentist can carefully examine and interpret the long term benefits of each procedure. Moreover, he can navigate you through the best treatment for tooth replacement.