Dentistry
Cosmetic
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Updated on December 12, 2022
7 min read

Dental Bridge vs. Implant

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Tooth loss is one of the most common dental issues in the world. Without proper treatment, you could experience infection, difficulty eating or speaking, or shifting in your remaining teeth.

“69% of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth to an accident, gum disease, a failed root canal or tooth decay”.1

Current trends in dental implants

Two of the most common treatment options to replace missing teeth are:

  1. Dental bridges — false teeth that are held in place by the surrounding teeth.
  2. Dental implants — false teeth attached to an artificial tooth root surgically placed into your jawbone

Both procedures can replace a missing tooth or teeth. However, they are quite different in terms of procedure and aftercare. Your dentist is your best source of information when deciding which treatment to choose. 

Doing some research before choosing a tooth replacement procedure can help you understand each option's costs, benefits, and drawbacks. Read on to learn more about implants vs. bridges and find out which one is right for you.

Here’s an overview of what to expect during a dental bridge or dental implant procedure:

What is a Dental Bridge?

Dental bridges are semi-permanent replacements for a missing tooth or teeth. They are custom-made out of porcelain, ceramic, or plastic for each patient.

Bridges attach to abutment teeth (the teeth surrounding your missing tooth/teeth). Your dentist will remove a certain amount of tooth from the abutment teeth before placing the bridge. 

Dental Bridge Types

If your surrounding teeth are not strong enough to support a traditional bridge, you may need an alternative bridge style, such as:

  • Cantilever bridges replace a missing tooth in the anterior region when there is only one adjacent supporting tooth. They aren’t strong enough to support molars.
  • Maryland bridges, also known as adhesive bridges, are made of a fake tooth supported by metal frames attached to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth.
  • Implant-supported bridges are set on dental implants. These are usually used on patients who have at least three missing molars in a row.

Dental Bridge Aftercare

Dental bridge aftercare includes:

  • Rinsing with mouthwash often and brushing at least twice a day
  • Flossing your teeth regularly — you will need a special tool such as a water flosser, super floss, or floss threaders to clean under the bridge
  • Chewing on the opposite side of your mouth and avoiding chewy, sticky, or hard foods for at least 24 hours

What is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is a permanent tooth replacement option. They are made of three or four parts, including:

  • The implant, or fixture, is surgically placed and fuses with your jawbone
  • The abutment is the middle section that connects the implant to the crown or bridge
  • Screws may be used to attach the abutment to the implant or crown
  • A crown or bridge is attached to the top of the implant to mimic a natural tooth's look and function

Dental Implant Techniques

There are several dental implant techniques for a variety of conditions.

Single Tooth Implant

Single implants replace a single missing tooth. They require one implant screw and one crown placed between your natural teeth.

dental implant NewMouth

Implant-Supported Bridge

Implant-supported bridges are used to replace multiple teeth. The implants support a bridge that replaces the missing teeth. 

implant supported bridge NewMouth

Implant-Retained Dentures

Implant-retained dentures are a full arch replacement option. They provide more stability and less pressure on the gums than traditional dentures.

fixed implant denture NewMouth

3-on-6 Dental Implants 

3-on-6 implants are an alternative to implant-supported dentures. They are three bridges set on top of six dental implants.

3 on 6 dental implants

All-on-4 Dental Implants

All-on-4 implants are a more permanent, natural-looking alternative to dentures. They replace your entire upper or lower arch (or both).

AdobeStock 203366795

Dental Implant Aftercare

Implant aftercare consists of the following:

  • Antibiotics to prevent infection
  • Eating only soft foods during the healing process
  • Brushing and flossing twice a day and practicing excellent oral health care 
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco

Dental Bridge vs. Implants Cost

Here's an overview of the cost differences between dental bridges and dental implants.

Dental Bridge Cost

The cost of a dental bridge depends on: 

  • The type of bridge chosen
  • The dental crown cost
  • If you have insurance

Insurance can cover up to 50 percent of the total cost of a dental bridge.

Traditional or Cantilever Dental Bridge $2,000 to $5,000 — includes one pontic and two dental crowns
Maryland Dental Bridge $1,500 to $2,500 — includes one pontic and the framework
Implant-Supported Dental Bridge $2,500 to $6,500 — per implant

Dental Implant Cost

Dental implants vary in cost depending on the following:

  • Type of procedure
  • Number of teeth missing
  • Your bone condition
  • Dental office location 

There may be additional costs for a bone graft, dental abutment, and dental crown. This can cost up to $2,000. Dental insurance rarely covers dental implants because they are considered cosmetic procedures.

Here are the approximate costs for the different types of implants:

Single Tooth Implant $3,000 to $4,000
Implant-Supported Bridge $5,000 to $16,000
Implant-Retained Dentures $12,000 to $30,000
3-on-6 Dental Implants $10,000 to $15,000
All-on-4 Dental Implants $15,000 to $20,000 (per arch)

Pros and Cons of Dental Bridges vs. Implants

Each procedure has its advantages and disadvantages. Considering these factors can help you make a more informed decision. 

Pros of Dental Bridges

  • Quick procedure with no invasive surgery
  • Fast recovery time
  • Cheaper

Cons of Dental Bridges

  • Must be replaced every 5 to 10 years
  • Less natural looking
  • They are more likely to cause cavities, decay, and damage to surrounding teeth

Pros of Dental Implants

  • Most permanent solution available (crown may last 15 years)
  • Look more natural
  • Less damage to your surrounding teeth and jaw
  • 97 percent success rate after 10 years 

Cons of Dental Implants

  • More expensive than bridges
  • Probably not covered by insurance
  • Longer healing process (up to 6 months)
  • Complications are rare but serious

Which Treatment is Right for You?

Choosing between a dental bridge or an implant can seem difficult. The best option for you will depend on how many teeth you’re missing, your general health, your budget, and your preferences.

For instance, dental bridges may make more sense if you’re missing multiple teeth in a row. For multiple missing teeth, multiple implants will need to be surgically placed.

Dental implants are more costly and longer to complete than bridges. You may also want to consider bridges if you’re in poor health since dental implants have a complicated healing process.

Dental bridges are made from porcelain, metal, or ceramics. On the other hand, implants are usually made from titanium, a stronger material.

Dental bridges last around 10 years, while implants last 20 to 30 years.

Other Treatment Options

Implants and bridges aren’t the only treatment options for missing teeth. Your dentist may recommend the following options:

Partial Dentures

Partial dentures fill gaps from one or multiple missing teeth. They are usually made of plastic and metal. They clip onto healthy teeth to stay in place.

Partial dentures may be used if your surrounding teeth are not strong enough to support a bridge. They are cheaper than implants or bridges but less stable and comfortable. They also need to be removed and cleaned and can potentially interfere with eating and speaking.

Removable partial dentures cost between $650 and $2,500 per set.

Full Dentures

Dentures are removable, false teeth that rest on your gums. They may be advisable if your jawbone isn’t strong enough to support implants.

A full set of dentures replaces all your teeth on your upper or lower jaw. They are made to look like your natural teeth. A denture adhesive can be used to hold the denture firmly in place. 

Dentures range in cost depending on whether you get low or high-quality dentures. Dental insurance will often cover up to 50 percent of the procedure.

Low cost dentures cost $500 to $1,500 per denture ($1,000 to $3,000 for a complete set) before insurance.

High-quality dentures cost $2,000 to $4,000 per denture ($4,000 to $8,000 for a complete set) before insurance.

Space Maintainers

Space maintainers are tools (usually made of metal) placed where your tooth used to be. They prevent your other teeth from shifting.

Space maintainers are usually used for children to make sure adult teeth can erupt easily. They are also a low-cost ($200 to $400) method to hold the space until the missing tooth is replaced.

Summary

  • Dental implants are the longest-lasting tooth replacement option on the market
  • Dental bridges are a cheaper alternative compared to implant-supported bridges
  • Dental implants have a lower risk for decay and cavities in surrounding teeth
  • The dental implant procedure can take up to six months, with several trips to the dentist or surgeon’s office
  • Dental bridges are completed in two visits a couple of weeks apart
  • Partial dentures, full dentures, and space maintainers are alternative treatments for missing teeth
Last updated on December 12, 2022
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on December 12, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. “Oral Health in America - May 2022 Bulletin: Section 3B Summary.”
  2. Gaviria, Laura, et al. “Current trends in dental implants.” Journal of the Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 2014.
  3. Gupta, Ranjan. “Dental Implants.” StatPearls., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2020.
  4. AAOMS Official Site | Experts in Face, Mouth, and Jaw Surgery. “Dental Implant Surgery | AAOMS.” 
  5. Hollins, Carole. “Basic Guide to Dental Procedures.” John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2015.
  6. Syrbu, John DDS. “The Complete Pre-Dental Guide to Modern Dentistry.” 2013.
  7. Misch, Carl E. “Dental Implant Prosthetics” - E-Book. Mosby, 2014.
  8. American Academy of Implant Dentistry. “Types of Implants and Techniques.”
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