Single tooth replacement - Single Implant vs. Three Unit Bridge


As dentistry progresses, the options available to restore the beauty and function of our teeth increases.  Although it is good to have choices, sometimes it makes decisions more difficult unless you have a good understanding of the implications of each choice.  When a single tooth is lost to trauma or disease or if you are born with a congenitally missing tooth, replacement of that tooth is beneficial.  The choices for single tooth replacement are a single implant or a three unit bridge.  

What is a Dental Bridge?

A three unit bridge was the standard of care for replacing a single lost tooth for quite some time.  If there are two structurally sound teeth on either side of the missing tooth, those adjacent teeth are prepared for crowns or caps and a dental lab will make a bridge.  This restoration has two crowns made to fit the remaining, prepared teeth and is attached to a false tooth between them.  Once this is bonded to the prepared teeth, the two crowned teeth hold the fake tooth in place and it appear as though there are no missing teeth present.  The process of placing a bridge can take 4-6 weeks and you will have a temporary bridge during the interim.  To learn more about dental bridges, visit our website at .


What is a Dental Implant?

A single implant has become the new standard of care and more closely replicates an actual tooth from both an aesthetic and a medical point of view.  There are three parts to an implant: the implant itself is a tiny, titanium screw that is placed into the jawbone; the implant crown is the part that looks like a tooth and is seen within the mouth; the abutment connects the implant to the crown.  The process of placing an implant can take several months and is done in stages.  The first step is to surgically place the implant into the jaw and then a period of healing called osseo-integration occurs.  After healing, the remaining time frame and process is very similar to that of the bridge.  To learn more about implants visit our website at .

Benefits of an Implant

If you are a candidate for an implant, this is often the better choice.  Whenever there is tooth loss, the jaw bone where that tooth is missing begins to melt away or resorb.  This bone loss is not reversible and can cause significant oral health problems.  An implant stops this bone loss from occurring, thereby preserving critical supporting structures.  Because it is a restoration that affects only one missing tooth, an implant looks more natural than a bridge when it is placed soon after a tooth is lost and before supporting bone structure is lost.  An implant is much easier to keep clean than a bridge and does not require the difficult process of using a floss threader to clean under the bridge in order to maintain oral health.  The long term prognosis of an implant in a healthy patient is very good and can last a lifetime.  A bridge can last a long time as well, but is much more likely to have problems throughout your life than an implant.   Additionally, since it is not necessary to crown the two adjacent teeth, you can avoid the increased risk of needing one or two root canals that is inherent any time a tooth is crowned.

Call Us For More Individualized Information

Dr. Todd Holton and his highly trained team are ready to discuss your individual oral health conditions. Contact us at to set up an appointment so we can determine how we can give you a smile you can be proud to wear!


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Single tooth replacement - Single Implant vs. Three Unit Bridge