What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is one of the ways we can replace a missing tooth or teeth. To replace a tooth with a dental bridge, you must have a tooth on each side of the space where you are currently missing a tooth. The process is very similar to the one used to crown a tooth. We prepare the tooth on each side of the space in the same way we would for a crown. We then make an impression of these prepared teeth. This is what the lab uses to make a permanent bridge. We will then make you a temporary bridge to wear while the lab fabricates your permanent dental bridge. To deliver your permanent bridge, we will remove your temporary and adjust the permanent bridge to ensure a proper fit. If we are happy with the look and fit, we then permanently cement the bridge.
Dental Bridge vs Implant
Dental bridges and implants are both great options for replacing a missing tooth and each has its own pros and cons. For this example, we will talk about a bridge or implant that replaces a single missing tooth.
The advantages of dental bridges typically involve cost and time. If you have insurance, they will typically cover a portion of the cost of a dental bridge. Also, the process of a dental bridge is typically completed in less time than an implant since we are not waiting for anything to fuse to the bone.
The cons of dental bridges typically involve problems with the teeth you have attached the bridge to. Any time you prepare a tooth for a crown or bridge there is a chance one or both could end up needing a root canal. Dental bridges are also more challenging to clean than a single implant. If not kept clean you will have a higher chance of getting new cavities on one or both of the teeth used for the bridge. These new cavities will require removing the old bridge to clean out the decay and fabrication of a new bridge. If extensive, these cavities can cause the loss of one or both of the teeth the bridge is connected to. Periodontal disease can also start around the bridge if it is not properly cleaned. This can also lead to the loss of one or both teeth involved with the dental bridge.
Dental implants are another great option for replacing a missing tooth. The main advantage of an implant is its inability to decay or get cavities. Single implants are also easier clean and maintain than a dental bridge. You can brush and floss a single implant like you would any other tooth since it is not attached to adjacent teeth. Rarely do implants have complications involving the teeth on either side of the space you are filling in since those teeth are not being utilized in any way.
Implants typically have very few disadvantages. They mostly involve cost and time. Most insurances typically have little to no implant coverage which means you will be paying for the majority of the cost on your own. Another thing to consider is the time needed to complete treatment. Once placed, an implant needs to sit undisturbed for anywhere from 3-6 months before a crown can be placed on it. This is how much time it takes for your jaw bone to fuse to the implant, allowing it to be stable enough to chew with. Hygiene is also very important for any implant. Just because an implant cannot get cavities, does not mean you do not have to keep it clean. Anyone can develop periodontal disease and bone loss around teeth and implants without proper hygiene. This bone loss can happen twice as fast around an implant compared to natural teeth. If left unchecked this will lead to the loss of the implant. If you lose enough bone you may no longer have enough to place a new implant, potentially making that space impossible to fill.
If you are a numbers person, the 5 and 10-year survival rate of implants is typically about 97% and 95% respectively. The 5 and 10-year survival rates for dental bridges are around 95% and 90% respectively.
How much does a dental bridge cost?
The cost of a dental bridge is determined by how many teeth are involved. Again we will use our example of replacing a single tooth. This would be considered a 3 unit bridge as it involves the teeth on each side of the space and the one we are replacing. If you have insurance, then a bridge of this type would range from approximately $1800 to $2700. Your out of pocket portion will vary depending on your insurance plan. Without insurance, the cost of this same bridge would range from approximately $3000 to $5400. At Bellingham Family Dentistry we take most major PPO insurance plans and have an in-house discount plan to help those without insurance.