Both a bridge and a dental implant are excellent solutions for replacing a missing tooth and restoring function to the affected area. In most cases, both will require multiple appointments to complete. There are some differences between the two solutions that you will want to discuss with your doctor as you plan your treatment. A bridge is a restoration that attaches a replacement tooth by using teeth on either side of the missing tooth for support. The primary advantage of a bridge is the time it requires to fully complete. Bridges can generally be completed in a matter of weeks. However, the primary disadvantage of a bridge is that it requires reducing the neighboring teeth for support, which sometimes involves reducing healthy tooth material. Additionally, since it does not replace the missing root structure, you are at an increased risk of bone loss over time. Another disadvantage is the extensive maintenance needed to keep a bridge clean and healthy. Frequent cleaning with a special threaded floss is necessary to prevent bacteria buildup which can result in irritation and gum loss. Another option for replacing a missing tooth is a dental implant. A dental implant serves as an artificial root, which then anchors the replacement tooth in place. One major advantage of an implant is that it substitutes the root structure of the missing tooth. Given that the roots serve the function of stabilizing and maintaining healthy bone tissue, an implant continues to help protect and preserve the area in a similar fashion. In addition, since this is a self-supporting restoration, it can be cared for just like any natural tooth. It also does not require removal of potentially healthy structure from the neighboring teeth. One potential drawback to a dental implant can be the time span needed to complete the procedure. In such cases, you doctor can place a temporary tooth in the empty space while you heal. As with any procedure, many additional factors must be taken into account. They should be discussed with your doctor so that the right choice can be made, based upon your unique needs.