Dental Bridges are fabricated from two or more dental crowns covering teeth on either side of a missing tooth. Dental bridges bridge the gap created by at least one missing tooth.
Bridges are fabricated out of 2 or more dental crowns for the teeth on either side of the space. These two or more anchoring crowns are called anchoring abutments.
A false tooth or teeth located in between. These false teeth are called dental pontics. These pontics can be fabricated from gold, alloys, porcelain, or any combination of these dental materials. Either dental implants or natural teeth can serve as anchors for bridges.
When is a Dental Bridge Necessary?
Approximately 70% of adults between 35 and 44 years of age are missing at least one tooth from gum disease, trauma, tooth decay, or failed root canal therapy.
Most dentists recommend bridges over implants if the patient already has existing dental crowns on the supporting teeth. Your dentist may also recommend a dental bridge if you are unable to get dental implants due to medical issues.
Patients may need a dental bridge after tooth loss or extraction, typically due to:
- Severe tooth decay
- Trauma or injury
- Gum disease
Dental Bridges Benefits
Dental Bridges have the following benefits:
-Can Restore your smile to its maximum potential by replacing lost teeth
-Restore the ability to chew and speak properly
-Restore and maintain the shape of your face
-Allow for equal distribution of the forces in your bite properly by replacing missing teeth
-Stop drifting of remaining teeth. If this was to occur, more damage could happen as changes occur to your bite
Available Types of Dental Bridges
- Traditional bridges involve fabricating a dental crown for the teeth or dental implant on either side of the missing tooth, with a dental pontic in between. Traditional dental bridges are the most common dental bridge and are made of either porcelain fused to steel(PFM) or ceramics.
- Cantilever dental bridges are recommended when adjacent teeth are on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. This is not very common with the addition of dental implants. It is not recommended in the back of the mouth where the extreme forces can damage the dental bridge and surrounding teeth.
- Maryland bonded dental bridges (dental resin-bonded bridges) can be fabricated from porcelain, porcelain fused to metal (PFM), or composite resin teeth and gums supported by a metal or porcelain framework. Metal or porcelain wings are often placed on just one side of the bridge and are bonded to your existing teeth.
- Dental Implant Supported Bridge – implant-supported dental bridges can be used when you have multiple teeth missing. Instead of receiving support from dental crowns or metal frameworks, this dental bridge receives support from dental implants.
Typically, one dental implant is placed for every missing tooth, and this series of dental implants support the bridge. However, this dental bridge may consist of a pontic suspended between two implant-supported crowns if placing one implant for every lost tooth.
Office Visits For A Dental Bridge
During the visit to your dentist for a dental bridge, the abutment teeth are prepared to accept the new dental crowns.
The preparation involves re-contouring these teeth by removing natural tooth structures to allow a crown to be placed over them. Next, dental impressions of the teeth are taken. This impression gives the dental lab a model from which the dental bridge will be fabricated.
Your dentist will insert a custom temporary dental bridge to protect the exposed teeth and gums while the bridge is being fabricated. During the next visit, your temporary bridge will be removed, your dentist will clean off the temporary cement of the teeth, and the new dental bridge will be checked and adjusted, as necessary, to achieve an optimal fit.
Depending on the complexity of your treatment plan, you may require multiple visits to check the fit of the metal framework and bite. This depends on each individual’s case as metal can distort and teeth moving ever so slightly. If your dentist finds the fit acceptable, the dental bridge will then be permanently cemented.
Dental Bridge vs. Dental Implant: Which is Right for You?
A dental implant is an artificial titanium tooth root. Dental implants are an extremely popular tooth replacement option. Replacement will be needed after someone loses a tooth due to trauma, tooth decay, or extraction.
Dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone. They intimately bond (called osseointegration) with your natural bone and are ultimately restored with a dental crown.
A single dental implant is an excellent option if you have one missing tooth. However, if you have multiple missing teeth, a dental bridge may be the better option for your smile. There are pros and cons to each.
Dental implants and dental bridges can both replace missing teeth. Although quite similar, the costs and outcomes of the procedures are very different. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of both:
ADVANTAGES OF DENTAL IMPLANTS:
- Less maintenance required
- It can be more cosmetic
- Protect the jawbone by maintaining bone levels
- It does not affect adjacent teeth
DISADVANTAGES OF DENTAL IMPLANTS:
- Requires invasive surgery
- A single tooth dental implant is slightly more expensive than a 3 unit bridge
- The recovery time is longer
- They can develop a dental infection
ADVANTAGES OF DENTAL BRIDGES:
- The procedure is faster and does not require surgery
- Recovery time is shorter
- Slightly more affordable
DISADVANTAGES OF DENTAL BRIDGES:
- Dental implants look more natural
- Must be replaced every 10-15 years
- More prone to fractures and tooth decay
- Damage to surrounding natural teeth
Cost Of Dental Bridges
The financial cost of a dental bridge will vary depending on the type of dental bridge and the materials chosen by your dentist. Dental insurance will usually pay a percentage of the fee for your dental bridge. It all depends on your dental coverage.
Necessary Dietary Changes
You should avoid certain foods over the long term because they can cause issues for your bridge or abutment teeth. These can include:
- Chewy/sticky candy
- Hard candy or snacks
- Popcorn (especially kernels)
You will need to be careful what you eat following the placement of your new bridge. Know what you can and cannot eat immediately following your dental bridge procedure(s) and follow your dentist’s advice.
How Long Will My Dental Bridge Last?
Dental bridges typically last five to fifteen years and sometimes even longer. With a good dental hygiene regimen and regular dental checkups, it is not unusual for dental bridges to still going strong after ten years.
Is a dental bridge better than a dental implant?
It depends on the patient. An implant is an excellent option if you have just one missing tooth. A bridge may be a better option if you have more than one missing tooth.
Implants are also more natural-looking, but bridges are typically a little less expensive.
Will a dental bridge change my speech?
A brief speech impairment may occur with a new dental bridge. Fortunately, this will typically resolve within a few days to weeks.
Is receiving a bridge painful?
A dental bridge procedure is relatively painless. Your dentist will use an anesthetic before the procedure begins. However, you may feel some minor discomfort after the anesthesia wears off.
Eating With Dental Bridges
Eating should be much easier once the bridge is cemented in place. This is because there will no longer be a gap for food to get trapped into.
Dental Bridges Care
Following a good oral hygiene program of flossing, brushing, and rinsing, combined with regular dental examinations and dental cleanings, will give your bridge the highest chance for success. The better dental hygiene you can maintain, the better chance of that dental bridge lasting a very long time. Flossing might pose more of a challenge as you need to thread the floss under the bridge to keep it clean. Your dentist will recommend floss threaders. This will allow you to get to the areas under the bridge and adequately keep them clean and healthy.
Your dentist can close the gaps on your smile with one of the four varieties of dental bridge to repair your smile. With so many dental bridges available, you can feel confident that your dentist has an appropriate solution for your missing teeth.