What Are the Alternatives to Dental Implants?

Dentist looking at 3D rendering of upper tooth arch on a computer. Dental implants are a popular tooth replacement option because they can last a lifetime. Plus, they will look and feel very similar to your natural teeth. However, dental implants aren’t for everyone. You might not be ready for such a permanent tooth restoration procedure, or your health status could compromise the installation of the implants. Sometimes your bone density is too thin, or you may have a systemic disease such as diabetes or an autoimmune disorder that wouldn’t make you a good candidate. Regardless of your reasoning, there are plenty of viable alternatives to dental implants. Here are some of the most popular.

How Do Dental Implants Work?

Dental implants are a permanent, long-lasting replacement for missing teeth. They act as a replacement for tooth roots, restoring your natural smile and function. The dental implant procedure may sound scary, but it is performed hundreds of thousands of times yearly in the United States.
  1. X-rays are taken so the dentist can establish a treatment plan and find anything that may complicate the process.
  2. An incision is made in your gum where the tooth is missing to expose the jawbone.
  3. A cavity is then drilled into the bone to make a spot for the implant to go.
  4. The implant is screwed into the newly formed cavity.
  5. The incision is stitched together for healing.
  6. Over the next six months, your bone will fuse to the implant, locking it in place.
  7. You will come back in for the crown to be attached to the implant.

Alternatives to Dental Implants

Tooth replacement using dental implants is attractive to many people because they are permanent. If dental implants aren’t for you, there are several comparable alternatives.


Dental bridges “bridge” the gap between healthy, natural teeth. They are usually used to replace one or two teeth and require the surrounding teeth to be healthy. Dental bridges are more affordable than dental implants. Plus, they don’t require any type of surgery during the installation process and will look and feel close to your natural teeth.

Cantilever Bridge

A cantilever bridge consists of two or three artificial crowns that are connected. One crown is solid and replaces the missing tooth. The other one or two crowns are hollow and fit over the existing teeth on either side of the gap. Before the bridge can be placed, the natural teeth that the hollow crowns go over have to be shaped to fit into them. Cantilever bridges are permanently placed, so you don’t have to worry about them falling out. However, you may need to have the crown replaced eventually.

Maryland Bonded Bridge

A Maryland bonded bridge is typically a single, solid crown. It has metal pieces on both sides of it that get bonded to the back of the teeth on either side of the replacement. It’s most often used to replace front teeth because it’s not as strong as other methods. Maryland bonded bridges are also a permanent alternative to dental implants.


Dentures are a great way to replace missing teeth and they can drastically improve the look of your overall smile. Dentures that aren’t attached using dental implants are significantly less expensive than ones that are. Dental implants will last much longer than dentures: compare a lifetime with dental implants to maybe about 10 years with dentures, and you can see why implants are the more expensive option. Dentures require a lot more maintenance, as they can fall out and need to be removed and cleaned every night.

Full-Mouth Dentures

Full mouth dentures are meant for people who have lost all or most of their teeth. Most of the time when someone only has a few teeth remaining, they are heavily decayed and need to be extracted. This prevents complications that may arise from unhealthy teeth and gives the dentist a clean slate to work with. The best full mouth dentures use dental implants to hold them in place. However, there is an alternative way to hold dentures in place — dental adhesive. Dentures that are held in place with adhesive aren’t the most secure treatment option. You’ll need to take them out and clean them nightly. Another disadvantage is that they can fall out when you chew, talk, yawn, or sneeze.

Partial Dentures

Partial dentures are also removable and require nightly cleaning, but as you may have guessed, they don’t replace a whole row of teeth. They usually replace two to four teeth. Partial dentures are a popular alternative to dental implants because they’re much more affordable and are quick and easy to install.

Are Dental Implants Necessary?

Dental implants aren’t necessary, but they are highly recommended. Whatever your reason for avoiding dental implants might be, if you’re missing one or more teeth, it’s important to choose some type of tooth replacement option. Dental implants are important because they replace the root of your tooth. Without a dental implant to replace that root, you could suffer from bone loss. This can cause the surrounding teeth to shift and possibly fall out. Of course, any tooth replacement is better than nothing, but the alternatives to dental implant methods don’t prevent bone loss.

Dental Implant Alternatives in Point Pleasant, NJ

If you still aren’t sure which tooth replacement option is right for you, book an appointment online or call us today. Our Point Pleasant dentist will walk you through your options and help you pick the perfect alternative to dental implants!

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Zicchino provides a wide array of cosmetic dentistry services, including Invisalign® Clear Aligners, at his practice in Point Pleasant, NJ. He earned his dental degree from NYU Dental School and established Coastal Dental Group in 2004. For more information call (732) 714-1030 or to schedule an appointment!