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Understanding Dental Implants and Bridges

We have reached the fourth and final blog in our Cosmetic Dentistry series, Understanding Dental Implants and Bridges. These two procedures address the same purpose, replacing a missing tooth, but they are very different on a technical level. To help you better understand the differences, we will define them and break down the parts of each.

Dental implants are metal fixtures surgically fastened to your jawbone below the gums, where artificial teeth can be mounted.

Parts of a dental implant include:

  • Fixture or implant post- a cylindrical screw implanted into the jawbone to serve as an artificial tooth root

  • Abutment-small connector piece that sits between the implant post and the prosthetic

  • Dental prosthetic-visible portion of the implant (the crown)

The fixture is inserted into the patient’s jawbone, acting as an anchor for the prosthetic tooth (crown). The implant replaces the missing tooth using a metal post (made of titanium) custom fitted to the patient’s mouth.

A dental bridge is a fixed dental restoration used to replace one or more missing teeth by bridging the gap between the two adjacent teeth. A bridge is considered one unit, typically three crowns splinted together.

Parts of a dental bridge include:

  • Abutment-the base of the bridge cemented to the nearby teeth

  • Crown-sits on top of the abutment and holds the pontic

  • Pontic-the replacement tooth

Dental bridges attach to the adjacent healthy teeth. A crown is placed over the adjacent teeth and the bridge, consisting of one or more teeth, connects them.

Factors to consider when considering Bridges or Implants are:

  • Time

  • Money

  • Long-term care

  • Future restorative or cosmetic procedures

Now that you are more informed about what a dental bridge and dental implant are, let’s go even deeper and talk about who is a candidate, the benefits, and the pros and cons of each.

Benefits of a Dental Implant

  • Restores the ability to chew

  • Puts less burden on the surrounding teeth

  • Promotes the healing of bone structures and gums under the teeth

  • Preserves health of the surrounding gums

  • Helps keep adjacent teeth stable

  • Improves quality of life

Benefits of a Dental Bridge

  • Replaces a missing tooth

  • Improves speech and pronunciation skills

  • Corrects proper biting and chewing techniques

  • Restores your smile and confidence

  • Prevents misalignment of remaining teeth

A good candidate for Dental Implants has

  • Good oral health

  • Strong, healthy jawbone and gums

  • Interest in replacing one or more missing teeth

  • Willingness to undergo a more invasive treatment process

  • Minimal teeth grinding

  • Non-smoker

  • No major uncontrolled medical concerns, such as diabetes or periodontal disease

A Candidate for a Dental Bridge has

  • No periodontal disease

  • No medical issues, such as diabetes

  • Two strong teeth that can be used as abutments for the bridge

Pros of a Dental Implant

  • Aesthetically pleasing; looks and feels like a natural tooth

  • Involves a single tooth; doesn’t rely on adjacent teeth

  • Easy to take care of with brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups

Pros of a Dental Bridge

  • Less invasive procedure: no surgery is required and can be completed in a few weeks

  • More affordable option

  • Has a long history of success

Cons of a Dental Implant

  • More extended procedure: bone grafting may be necessary and has a longer healing time

  • Typically, insurance won’t pay for this procedure

  • Can be expensive if multiple teeth need to be replaced: the average cost of one implant is $5000

  • Grinding your teeth can damage the implant

  • Bone loss can occur without proper oral care

Cons of a Dental Bridge

  • Can be damaging to adjacent healthy teeth

  • All teeth fail if the abutment (surrounding teeth) fails

  • Good oral care is necessary

  • More challenging to floss your teeth

  • Doesn’t feel as natural as implants

What should you expect if you come to Family Dentistry of Lakewood for these procedures?

When you come to our office, we will complete a comprehensive exam and take x-rays. We must assess the condition of your jaw to determine the best dental implant procedure. We use the CBCT (Cone-Beam Computed Tomography) to take a scan of the mouth to determine the quantity and quality of your bone. Once we decide the best option, we move forward, ordering the necessary parts.

The process can take up to 7 months to complete. We will use a local anesthetic and place the titanium implant into the gum; time is needed for the implant to heal and grow bone. We need to make sure your body will respond positively since it can reject the implant. When your mouth has healed, you return to the office, and we make a temporary crown. Several weeks later, you return to our office for the final placement of your permanent implant.


When you come to our office for the first visit, we will give you a local anesthetic so we can prepare the supporting teeth for the crown to be placed. Like completing a crown, we will remove any decay and old restorations from the supporting teeth. The goal is to ensure the two adjacent teeth are angled toward each other so we can slip the bridge over them.

We will then take impressions, allowing us to make a temporary bridge that will protect your mouth until your permanent bridge is ready. We send the impression off to the lab, and once the permanent bridge is complete, you will return to our office for the placement of the bridge.

This information may be overwhelming. Losing a tooth can be stressful. At Family Dentistry of Lakewood, we discuss all the available treatment options and answer any questions you may have. In addition, we discuss your specific situation and what procedure will be the most beneficial and successful for you. Contact us at 253.584.3121 to schedule an appointment if you are ready to discuss your options and get started replacing your missing tooth.


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