What Is The Difference Between A Dental Bridge And An Implant?

If you’ve been thinking about replacing a missing tooth or multiple teeth, you may have come across the terms “dental bridge” and “dental implant.” But what exactly are the differences between these two dental options? A dental bridge is a restoration that spans the space where a tooth is missing, anchoring to adjacent teeth for support. On the other hand, a dental implant is a permanent solution that involves surgically placing a titanium post into the jawbone to serve as a replacement root. In this article, we’ll explore the contrasts between these popular dental treatments, helping you make an informed decision about which option is best for you.

What Is a Dental Bridge?


A dental bridge is a fixed dental restoration used to replace missing teeth by joining an artificial tooth or teeth to adjacent teeth. The artificial teeth, called pontics, are designed to fill the gap caused by missing teeth, while the teeth on either side of the gap, known as abutment teeth, serve as support for the bridge.


The procedure for getting a dental bridge typically involves multiple visits to the dentist. During the initial visit, the abutment teeth are prepared by removing a small amount of enamel to make room for the bridge. Impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to a dental laboratory, where the bridge is custom-made. In the meantime, a temporary bridge is placed to protect the exposed teeth and gums. In the second visit, the temporary bridge is removed, and the permanent bridge is carefully fitted and cemented onto the abutment teeth.

Materials Used

dental bridges can be made from various materials, including porcelain fused to metal, all-ceramic, or zirconia. Porcelain fused to metal bridges are the most common and offer a combination of strength and aesthetics. All-ceramic bridges provide excellent aesthetics, as they closely resemble natural teeth. Zirconia bridges are known for their durability and strength.


One of the main benefits of dental bridges is that they can restore the ability to speak and chew properly, which may be compromised due to missing teeth. Additionally, bridges can help maintain the natural shape of the face and prevent the remaining teeth from shifting out of position. They also provide an aesthetic improvement, as they look and feel like natural teeth. With proper oral hygiene, dental bridges can last for many years.


While dental bridges offer several benefits, they are not without drawbacks. One major drawback is that the adjacent teeth need to be prepared by removing enamel, which can weaken them. Additionally, bridges may not be suitable if the adjacent teeth are not strong enough to support the bridge. If a bridge becomes loose or damaged, it may require replacement or repair.

What Is a Dental Implant?


A dental implant is a surgical component that is placed into the jawbone to support a dental prosthesis, such as a crown, bridge, or denture. It is a long-term solution for replacing missing teeth, as it mimics the natural tooth root and provides a stable foundation for the replacement tooth.


The dental implant procedure involves several stages. Firstly, a small incision is made in the gum to expose the jawbone. A hole is then drilled in the jawbone, and the implant is carefully inserted into the hole. Over time, the implant fuses with the bone through a process called osseointegration. Once the implant has fully integrated, an abutment is placed on top of the implant, which serves as a connector between the implant and the prosthetic tooth. Finally, a crown, bridge, or denture is attached to the abutment, completing the restoration.

Materials Used

dental implants are typically made from biocompatible materials, such as titanium or zirconia. Titanium implants have been widely used for many years due to their excellent osseointegration properties. Zirconia implants are gaining popularity as they offer superior aesthetics and are suitable for patients with metal allergies.


Dental implants offer numerous benefits, making them a preferred choice for many patients. One of the key advantages is their stability and functionality, as they function similarly to natural teeth. Implants also help preserve the jawbone, preventing bone loss that can occur with missing teeth. They do not rely on adjacent teeth for support, which helps maintain the integrity of the surrounding teeth. Dental implants are also highly durable, and with proper care, they can last a lifetime.


Despite their many advantages, dental implants may not be suitable for everyone. One of the drawbacks is that the implant placement procedure is invasive and requires a sufficient amount of healthy jawbone. Patients with certain medical conditions or habits, such as smoking, may not be good candidates for dental implants. Implants also tend to be more expensive than other tooth replacement options, and the process of osseointegration can take several months.

Comparison between Dental Bridge and Implant


Both dental bridges and implants can restore functionality to some extent, allowing you to speak and chew properly. However, dental implants offer a higher level of functionality, as they closely mimic the natural teeth and provide a stable foundation for biting and chewing. Implants do not rely on neighboring teeth for support, preventing any strain on the surrounding teeth.


When it comes to durability, dental implants have the upper hand. With proper care and maintenance, implants can last for a lifetime, as they are made from strong and biocompatible materials. On the other hand, dental bridges have an average lifespan of around 10 to 15 years and may require replacement or repair over time.


In terms of aesthetics, both dental bridges and implants offer natural-looking results. Dental bridges can closely resemble natural teeth, especially if made from all-ceramic or porcelain fused to metal materials. However, implants provide a more realistic appearance, as the crown or prosthesis is individually customized to match the color, shape, and size of your existing teeth.

Procedure Complexity

The procedure for getting a dental bridge is relatively simpler compared to dental implant surgery. Dental bridges involve preparing the adjacent teeth, taking impressions, and fitting the bridge onto the abutment teeth. In contrast, dental implants require a surgical procedure to place the implant into the jawbone, followed by a waiting period for osseointegration. Additional appointments are necessary for the placement of the abutment and attachment of the prosthesis.


In terms of cost, dental bridges are generally more affordable than dental implants. The cost of a bridge can vary depending on the number of pontics and the materials used, but it is generally less expensive than the surgical procedure and multiple components involved in dental implants. However, it is important to consider the long-term costs, as implants tend to last longer and may not require replacement or repair.


The suitability of dental bridges or implants depends on various factors, including the condition of the adjacent teeth and the overall oral health. Bridges are a viable option when the adjacent teeth are strong enough to support the bridge. However, if the adjacent teeth have decay or are weakened, dental implants may be a better choice, as they do not rely on neighboring teeth for support. Implants also work well for patients with no adjacent teeth or those who prefer a more stable and long-term solution.

Timeframe for Treatment

The timeframe for treatment varies between dental bridges and implants. Dental bridges can be fabricated and placed within a few weeks, as the process primarily involves dental laboratory work. In contrast, dental implants usually require a longer timeframe due to the need for osseointegration. The entire implant process can take several months, allowing the implant to fully integrate with the jawbone before attaching the prosthesis.


Both dental bridges and implants require good oral hygiene practices for proper maintenance. Dental bridges should be brushed and flossed daily, paying special attention to the area where the bridge meets the gumline. Regular dental check-ups are also important to ensure the bridge remains in good condition. Dental implants should also be brushed and flossed like natural teeth, and regular dental visits are necessary to monitor the implant and the surrounding oral health.

Long-term Oral Health

Dental bridges and implants can both contribute to long-term oral health by restoring proper tooth function and preventing further dental problems. Dental bridges can help maintain the alignment of the surrounding teeth and prevent them from shifting. However, the preparation of the adjacent teeth for bridge placement may weaken them in the long run. On the other hand, dental implants stimulate the jawbone, preventing bone loss and preserving the overall facial structure.

Considerations for Missing Teeth

When considering tooth replacement options, it is essential to consider the specific circumstances of the missing teeth. Dental bridges are a suitable choice if adjacent teeth are in good condition and can provide stable support for the bridge. They are also a viable option for patients who prefer a quicker and less invasive procedure. Dental implants are recommended when adjacent teeth are weak or unsuitable for bridge placement. Implants also offer a more permanent solution and better long-term oral health benefits.

In conclusion, both dental bridges and dental implants are effective options for replacing missing teeth. Dental bridges provide a relatively quicker and more affordable solution, while dental implants offer excellent functionality, durability, and aesthetics. The choice between the two depends on factors such as the condition of adjacent teeth, the patient’s oral health, and their specific preferences. Consulting with a dental professional will help determine the most suitable treatment option for you and ensure a successful tooth replacement that restores your smile and oral health.