Dental implants do not require adjacent teeth next to the fill in site and also serve to protect the surrounding teeth, while bridges are simpler and quicker to put in the implants and do not have the same risk of bone loss in the jaw, states Davis & Dingle. Dental bridges are also generally less expensive than implants.
While bridges were once a more common way of fixing a missing tooth issue, many modern dentists prefer implants because they are a more permanent fix and do not have as many issues with cleaning and possible infection, notes The New York Times. Bridges may fail as the supporting teeth age, necessitating an implant later on anyway.
Much like their name suggests, bridges bridge the gap between two stable teeth to fill in where one tooth is missing. Implants, on the other hand, actually fill in the gap by screwing the replacement directly into the jaw bone. Implants are more expensive but can last the rest of a person's lifetime, as opposed to bridges which generally need to be replaced after 10 years or so.
Bridges may still be preferable in certain situations, including if the patient smokes or has a medical condition such as diabetes, because the bone cells may not be healthy enough to fuse to the implant.