As a rule a dental implant is a superior treatment option to a bridge. The dental implant does not involve treatment to the adjacent teeth as a bridge would. Subsequently it is more conservative. It is more comfortable and hygienic to have individual teeth than a bridge. While the initial cost of an implant may be more than the bridge, the crowns of bridge will wear with time and must be replaced. If one of the crowns connected to a bridge needs replacing the entire bridge must be replaced. The restoration of a dental implant will also wear with time and must be replaced, however only that crown needs to be changed as it is not part of another restoration. Over time the implant is much more economical for this reason.
Situations that might favor a bridge over a dental implant are as follows:
- If the adjacent teeth need crowns anyway then economically it is preferable to do the bridge vs the dental implant.
- If the patient is not a good candidate for implant surgery i.e. there was previous radiation to the bone for cancer treatment.
- Dental insurance will typically provide partial benefits for a bridge but no benefits for an implant. However, given the above explanation about replacing crowns in a bridge vs the crown on the implant the patients out of pocket expense is less with a dental implant over time.
Today the standard of care is to replace missing teeth with dental implants vs bridges, but not all situations warrant the use of dental implants. At a minimum your dentist should discuss the option of dental implants for replacing missing teeth.