Tooth loss is an everyday reality. Even if you’re careful with your flossing and brushing of teeth (twice daily) as well as mouthwash gargling, sooner or later you should end up losing one or more of your permanent teeth, with no replacements in sight.
Among adults aged 35 to 44 years old, 69 percent of them end up losing at least an adult tooth according to certain studies. When they hit 74 years of age, about ¼ of Americans lose all of their teeth, with them ending up with dentures.
Dental Implants versus Dental Bridges and Crowns
Here’s the lowdown in regards to the pros and cons of getting dental implants versus getting dental bridges and crowns to replace missing teeth.
|Type of Procedure
|Dental Bridges and Crowns (No Implants)
What’s Better? A Dental Implant or a Bridge?
When you lose a tooth, you can get detachable dentures to replace it. However, those tend to be uncomfortable inside your mouth and embarrassing like a toupee that hides your bald spot. You might want a more permanent and functional solution.
Maintain Facial Shape: Replacement teeth, whether they’re dentures, implants, or bridges, help maintain your facial shape to prevent it from changing due to teeth movement and crowding, which changes your bite.
It also prevents difficulties in speaking or eating due to dental crowding complications. Bridges and implants serve as the most common solutions to this.
For Alignment’s Sake: Prosthetic teeth or dentures help keep your teeth aligned so that they don’t end up “crowding” on one side or another of your mouth while the other teeth end up with huge gaps between them.
You can use partial dentures and space maintainers to prevent tooth crowding, which happens whenever there’s a gummy gap between teeth that compel the remaining teeth to fill in that space by “shifting” towards it.
- What are Dental Bridges? A dental bridge is a type of denture placed by the teeth around your missing tooth. The existing teeth serve as the support posts and they’re shaven down to fit the crowns on either side of the prosthetic bridge.
- What’s a Cantilever Bridge? Bridges can be a cantilever bridge that only uses one tooth as support or a standard bridge that uses two teeth. They can also be made of materials such as plastic or porcelain to match your natural dental color.
- What are Dental Crowns? Standalone crowns can be placed over or atop a dead tooth that has undergone root canal (endodontic) surgery that removes the tooth root and places inert material inside the shell of a formerly healthy tooth.
- What are Dental Implants? Implants aren’t prosthetics but, instead, artificial tooth roots made of titanium. You can place bridges and crowns on top of them after mounting them onto your jawbone with screws.
- Other Options: A root canal can preserve an existing compromised tooth without extraction by surgically removing the tooth root and tooth pulp from the shell of the tooth, then filling it with inert material and placing a crown over it.
You can also replace lost teeth with partial detachable dentures you need to clean out by putting it in a glass of water before sleeping. Space maintainers can also be utilized to prevent teeth shifting.
Cosmetic options for teeth preservation include tooth fillings, veneers, and dental jackets.
Pros and Cons of Dental Implants vs. Dental Bridges
Dental implants and bridges have their respective benefits and drawbacks. You also need to keep in mind the factors that assist you in determining which option works best for you.
The dental bridge mostly closes the gap between missing teeth and existing teeth by using crowns you put over the existing teeth. They offer the following benefits:
- You’re more likely to have (or to easily get) insurance coverage for it.
- It’s more affordable and uses existing teeth for support.
- Compared to dental implants, they involve lower upfront expenses.
- They don’t need invasive surgery or bone grafting for thinner jaws.
- You only need to finish it with two visits to the dentist chair spread across two weeks or so.
As for the cons or drawbacks of the dental bridge, they include the following:
- As bridges age, their natural appearance fades with age.
- You have to damage healthy teeth in order to replace the missing tooth.
- Bridges require replacement every 5-7 years. They can last up to 10 years if taken care of properly.
- Tooth decay and cavities on surrounding teeth supports are more of an issue compared to implant dentistry.
Meanwhile, dental implants are artificial tooth roots you attach crowns or entire bridges over. The jawbone is supposed to grow around the implant to make it work. They include the following benefits:
- You won’t have to shave down healthy teeth to use an implant.
- High success rate for 10 years. 97 percent of implants last for about 10 years.
- They offer you a natural dental appearance longer than bridges that age in a decade.
- An implant can last 15 years along with the attached bridge. They make bridges last longer because they’re not depending on shaven teeth as support.
As for the drawbacks of going the implant route, here’s what you need to know:
- Insurance is less likely to offer coverage for implant dentistry.
- You’ll have to pay a lot more upfront. This makes an implant a major investment.
- You need to watch out for surgical complications, infections, and so forth.
- The process of installing and healing around the implant takes up to half a year.
Bridges and crowns over natural teeth vs. putting them on dental implants both offer natural-looking results when push comes to shove for at least half a decade. The implants last longer because they don’t depend on essentially compromised natural teeth.
The Cost of Implants vs. Bridges and Crowns
Bridges and crowns over natural teeth are more affordable upfront and have a better likelihood of insurance coverage compared to the astronomical cost of dental implants with crowns or bridges. The prices will vary depending on:
- Where you live (which city, state, or country you’re in).
- How extensive the procedure is, which affects its expensiveness.
- The type of bridge or implant you’re receiving (porcelain, gold, zirconium, and so forth).
- The material used for the dentures and what brand they are (Dentium, HiOssen, BioHorizons, or Straumann).
The American Dental Association claims that low-end dental bridges cost $500 per missing tooth. The most expensive ones can cost upwards of $1,200 per tooth. The price of the dental crown attached to the nearby teeth to support the bridge is a separate cost.
You’ll have to add another $500 to $2,500 per tooth support for the dental bridge. You better see if you’re covered by insurance if you’re getting high-end dentures!
As for dental implants, they cost from $4,000 to $5,000 per tooth. Insurance for implants are rarer to come by in light of how costly the implants are and the complications associated with them.
Although you’ll face more upfront costs with implants, it’s usually because they last longer, age better, and require fewer replacements than bridges over natural teeth alone.
You can also avail of Thantakit Dental Center prices that are so affordable they’re practically a steal and you can get a Thailand vacation out of it. That’s why a trip there is known as dental tourism or wellness vacation.
- Porcelain crowns cost ฿15,000 to ฿22,000 ($400 to $590) depending on the material.
- Gold crowns cost ฿30,000 to ฿35,000 ($800 to $940).
- Single implants with a single crown cost from ฿65,000 to ฿85,000 ($1,740 to $2,280).
- Bridges with implants cost ฿155,000 to ฿195,000 ($4,150 to $5,230) for 3-unit bridges and 2 implants.
- As for 4-unit bridges with 2 implants, they range from ฿180,000 to ฿200,000 ($4,820 to $5,360).
Please take note that the baht to U.S. dollar conversions done here are based on the time this article is written. Price conversions will vary in the future.
How to Choose Between a Crown Plus Bridge and an Implant
Ask your dental professional on which tooth replacement works best for your situation and the upfront prices for each. If you really can’t afford any of it, you can always live with a missing molar or two extracted due to extensive cavities.
If you’ve lost more than one tooth, a well-maintained detachable denture might instead be called for as your most affordable cosmetic dental solution.
The best option for tooth replacement depends on your situation. They can vary based on your overall health, how many missing teeth you’ve ended up with, and how much money you’re willing to spend on this.
Overall Cost and Prices: Your dental bridge can get dental insurance coverage but check its premiums and what level of coverage you’ve availed of before considering this dental replacement route. It costs $500 to $2,500 per tooth.
An implant isn’t only more expensive; it opens you up to more complication risk. This makes dental insurance less likely to cover implant surgeries. It costs $4,000 to $5,000 per tooth.
No Insurance: If you lack insurance, you can shop around for cheaper but not necessarily low-grade alternatives. You can also settle for detachable partial dentures or leaving a missing tooth as is.
You can also go the dental tourism route in places like Thailand in order to avail of much more affordable options so cost-effective you’d save money even when taking into account travel expenses.
Number of Missing Teeth: If you’re missing more than one consecutive tooth, you can use the dental bridge to literally bridge the gap. You can only affect one tooth support with a cantilever bridge, if you so choose.
An implant can help preserve existing teeth so that they’re not used as support for your bridges. Instead, you can surgically put the implant to your jawbone then place bridges for the rest of your missing teeth.
Overall Health: Implant surgery might not be a realistic option for people with leukemia, diabetes, or other conditions that slow down your healing abilities. It’s the same deal with people who have heart issues and thin-density jawbones.
Your eligibility for dental implants will be assessed by your dentist. If you have good overall health or if your conditions won’t result in higher risk of post-surgery complications, then you’re good to go.
Amount of Down Time: A dental implant might take months to heal. In contrast, a dental bridge can be put together in two dentist center trips spread across a few weeks. Implants also entail oral surgeons to drill into your jaw to attach the post.
The implant should be screwed into the bone to allow it to form around as it heals. A temporary denture is installed as you wait for the bone to fully heal when all is said and done. It takes about 2 months to half a year before the crown is added.
Partial dentures: Partial dentures fill the gaps of one or several teeth. They’re made of metal and plastic. They look like natural teeth and attach to your healthy teeth like bridges, but in a more temporary way since they’re detachable.
Your dentist might tell you to get a denture instead of a bridge if the teeth surrounding your missing tooth or teeth aren’t strong enough to serve as support posts for a dental bridge and you’re too poor for a dental implant solution.
Space Maintainers: You’ll be recommended to use a space maintainer if you can’t replace your tooth right away but you wish to do so in the future. It also helps preserve your original bit before losing your tooth.
They’re made of a piece of metal. This prevents your teeth surrounding your missing tooth from crowding or shifting. Space maintainers are orthodontic devices commonly used by children to allow for adult teeth to erupt without obstructions.
The Final Score
If you don’t wish to have the stereotypical removable dentures most associated with senior citizens, you should find a way to invest in dental implants and/or dental bridges and crowns to save your smile.
Either option can be quite expensive, so it pays to have dental insurance to alleviate your out-of-pocket expenses or a dental tourism service like those available from the Thantakit Dental Center. Even with travel expenses included, their rates remain the most affordable!
Thantakit International Dental Center is Thailand’s longest established dental center. Situated in Bangkok, our clinic is renowned across the world as a destination for world-class dentistry, with most of our patients flying to us from Australia.
Please contact us today and get a FREE dental consultation.