Dental implants vs bridges

At Bupa Dental Care, our dentists offer several ways to replace missing teeth and give you back your natural smile. An initial assessment with your dentist will help you decide which is the best solution for you.

Two popular options for replacing missing teeth are implants and bridges. There are a few key differences between both treatments.

Type of treatment

A dental bridge, as the name implies, bridges the gap where a tooth once was. It involves replacing a missing tooth with a false tooth which is bonded to your natural teeth on either side of the gap. The diagram shows how a bridge is fitted.

An implant, on the other hand, consists of a titanium screw that’s fixed into your jawbone and topped with a replacement tooth, also known as a crown. It’s also possible to have an implant-supported bridge, which involves placing a bridge on top of implants to replace multiple missing teeth in a row.

Appearance and functionality

Both dental bridges and implants can restore your natural smile, and both are discreet options for replacing missing teeth.

The implant itself, which is a titanium screw, won’t be visible as it’s placed in your jawbone. Your false tooth or teeth will be similar to the shape, shade and size of your other teeth, so they look natural and feel comfortable. The diagram shows how an implant is placed.

Dental bridges aren’t embedded beneath your gum, so there’s a chance that the structure of the bridge may be slightly visible behind or in between your replacement teeth, although your dentist will make the bridge look as natural as possible. It can take a little while to get used to the feeling of a bridge in your mouth, but after a while, they should begin to feel more comfortable.

Implants may be a preferred option if you want to avoid causing any damage to your existing teeth. When you have a bridge fitted, your dentist may need to cut your natural teeth on either side. Dental implants can take as much pressure as a natural tooth because they’re embedded into your jaw, while dental bridges spread any pressure to the adjacent teeth, which have usually been cut or filed down to support the crowns.

While implants can last as long as natural teeth if you look after them well, a dental bridge can weaken over time due to this pressure and the fact that the supporting teeth have been filed away. A dental bridge will eventually require restoration treatment, but you can ensure it lasts for many years by looking after it well.

Jaw health can be another factor to think about when you’re considering a tooth replacement. When you lose a tooth and its root, the teeth on either side of the gap can ‘lean’ into the space that’s left, which can cause bone loss. A dental bridge secures the adjacent teeth and stops them from shifting, but, unlike an implant, it doesn’t have a screw placed into the jaw to fill the socket of the missing tooth, so a bridge doesn’t prevent bone loss over time.

An implant functions like a real tooth with a root and your jaw will remain strong as you age, preventing bone loss which can impact your face shape.

Find out more about replacing missing teeth

If you’re interested in implants, speak to your nearest Bupa Dental Care practice offering dental implants.

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Find out more

Find out more about implants and bridges, as well as a comparison between implants and dentures.

Many images and videos used throughout our website were taken before the COVID-19 outbreak and therefore do not represent COVID best practices.

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Bupa Dental Care is a trading name of Oasis Dental Care Limited. Registered in England and Wales No: 00478127. Registered office: Bupa Dental Care, Vantage Office Park, Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook, Bristol, United Kingdom BS16 1GW.

Oasis Dental Care Limited has a number of trading names including Bupa Dental Care. For a list of all our different trading names please follow this link.