Bridge or Implant? Which Is Right for Me?

Lake Oswego Dentist Serving Portland, & Nearby West Linn, OR

If you are missing a single tooth, the best permanent replacement is a dental implant placed into your jaw to replace your tooth's root, and a dental crown fastened over it. A dental bridge is ideal if you are missing multiple teeth. However, the decision to use one instead of another depends on many factors. The best treatment can differ from person to person or from one area to another in the same mouth. One of the challenges of cosmetic dentistry is matching each problem with the right solution.

Traditionally, a single missing tooth was replaced by a dental bridge. A bridge requires that the teeth adjacent to the missing teeth be ground down so that crowns can be placed on them to anchor the replacement tooth. A dental implant acts as your tooth's artificial root and does not require crowns to be placed on your adjacent teeth.

Dental Implants

A dental implant is made of titanium that is placed directly into the bone in the space created by a missing tooth. The procedure is painless. Once the dental implant is fastened into your bone, it acts as the root of the missing tooth. A dental crown can then be designed to fit onto your implant and create the appearance and function of your natural tooth.

In order to place a dental implant into the appropriate position, you must have enough bone to hold the implant in place. The roots of your adjacent teeth must also be straight so they do not interfere with where the implant needs to go.

If you do not meet these requirements, a bone grafting procedure can be done to increase your bone mass, and orthodontics can be placed to move the roots of your adjacent teeth. While this may seem like a lot of work, if your adjacent teeth are healthy, a dental implant is the best method to predictably replace a missing tooth without altering your other healthy teeth.

A crown placed on a dental implant looks like it is growing out of the gum, so the appearance is completely natural. Because the implant anchors the crown in a way similar to a natural root, the replacement tooth functions like a natural tooth as well.

If you tend to grind your teeth, dental implants are more likely to fail. Dr. Wendling will evaluate the forces in your mouth and potentially offer neuromuscular treatment to reduce excessive forces before going ahead with implant restoration.

Dental bridges

A dental bridge is a false tooth, fused between two porcelain crowns to fill in the space left by a missing tooth. A crown will be placed on both teeth to either side of the empty space, "bridging" together the empty space. This procedure is used to replace one or more missing teeth. A fixed bridge is permanent and can not be removed from your mouth the way dentures or removable partials are.

Bridges are natural in appearance, and generally require only two dental visits. If you maintain good oral hygiene, your fixed bridge can easily last 10 years.

If you have missing teeth and have good oral hygiene, you should discuss the fixed bridge procedure with Portland cosmetic dentist Dr. Wendling. If the space created by a missing tooth is left unfilled, the surrounding teeth and eventually the remaining teeth in your mouth may drift and cause a misaligned bite. Furthermore, empty spaces can cause your gums to recede and become more vulnerable to gum disease and tooth decay.

To learn more bridges and implants, and to have a thorough personal assessment, call or email our Oregon Cosmetic Dentistry practice today to schedule an appointment with Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Wendling. We offer a full range of cosmetic dentistry procedures to the residents of Portland, Lake Oswego, West Linn and surrounding Oregon areas.


Portland Cosmetic Dentist

17437 Boones Ferry Road Suite 400
Lake Oswego, Oregon 97035