Helping patients weigh the pros and cons of dental implants and bridges

Q2 Word of Mouth newsletter 2023

Losing teeth can have a significant impact on your patient’s smile and create functional issues with chewing properly. This dental problem may take a physical and emotional toll on a patient and should be considered when discussing treatment options.

Over the past 40 years, the dental implant procedure has been evolving as an excellent option to replace a missing tooth. However, dental bridges have continued to be the standard procedure used in these situations. 

When patients are faced with the option to receive either a dental implant or bridge, they may ask about the benefits and drawbacks of each procedure. The following information can help support your discussions with patients who may be candidates for these treatment options, and which meets their needs best.   

  Treatment pros Treatment cons
Dental implant
  • The teeth on either side of the space remain untouched
  • The implant looks more natural than dental bridges and you can care for it like a natural tooth
  • They have a success rate of 97% with life spans of 15 years
  • They are less likely to turn into a cavity or have decay
  • The process can take up to 6 months or more, depending on where in the mouth the implant is placed
  • When the bone is not suitable for dental implant placement, the addition of bone or bone grafting can add an additional 3 to 6 months of treatment time
  • The overall cost tends to be about 30% more than a dental bridge
Dental bridge
  • The process only takes 6-8 weeks
  • The overall cost of treatment is typically less
  • The dental bridge may feel more natural to bite on, since you can feel the pressure that your teeth create
  • The procedure typically doesn’t require bone grafting or other surgeries prior to the dental bridge process
  • The procedure affects the teeth adjacent to the space by removing significant tooth structure to accommodate the dental crowns
  • The dental bridge may still present with cavities or decay 
  • Caring for the teeth at home requires flossing with a floss threader
  • The life span of a dental bridge is 10 years less than a dental implant
  • The overall aesthetics can deteriorate since the space may lose significant bone as the bone area isn’t working

Other treatment considerations

Dental implants have become a very common solution for missing teeth, but patients should be made aware of maintaining a natural tooth through traditional root canal therapy, if appropriate. 

The economic impact of multiple required implants to replace many teeth is something that should be considered and discussed with patients. It’s important to review all options and work with your patient to determine the best pathway for their condition, lifestyle and economic ability.