Years ago, if you lost a tooth, your dentist would likely replace it with a dental bridge. A bridge is a false tooth that anchors to the other teeth on either side of it. Over the years, dental bridges have become less common and more and more people opt for dental implants as a tooth replacement option. Implants look like natural teeth, and they can last longer than bridges. However, this does not mean an implant is always the best choice. Dental bridges are still helpful, and they are still used in many situations -- particularly for patients who fall into one of these categories.
For years, dentists hardly ever performed implant surgery on diabetic patients for fear that they would not heal properly. Now, many dentists will perform implant surgery on diabetics, but only those whose blood sugar is under close control. If you have struggled to control your blood sugar or you are developing other diabetes-related issues like retinopathy and neuropathy, your dentist is likely to recommend a bridge rather than an implant.
People With Immune Deficiencies
If you have an immune-related disease or have had trouble with infections after past surgical procedures, your dentist may not feel it is safe for you to undergo implant surgery. Since a bridge can be placed in your mouth without any incisions, it is a much safer choice. Your dentist may re-evaluate your health at a later date and recommend an implant at that point, but in the meantime, you will be able to rely on the bridge to provide a chewing surface and a nicer smile.
Those With Poor Quality Jaw Bone
In order to support an implant, you need to have a pretty strong jaw bone, since the bone will support the metal implant. If your jaw bone is not in good shape, perhaps because you have a condition like osteoporosis or because you've waited a long time to have a missing tooth replaced, your dentist may recommend a bridge as your best tooth replacement option. (If you don't replace a tooth quickly, your jaw bone will deteriorate and will no longer be strong enough for an implant.)
If your dentist recommends a bridge to replace your missing tooth, don't worry. The process of having a bridge put in is painless, and bridges have been used for many years, so they have a long track record of success.