Dental bridges are an option we offer that is meant to bridge a gap, usually created by the absence of one or more teeth, between two teeth. Typically, the presence of teeth in the area act as an anchoring point for a false tooth called a pontic – made of either gold, porcelain, alloys, or a combination of those materials – to be placed. Missing teeth are not uncommon; in fact, the American Dental Association reports that adults between the ages of 20 and 64 years old have three decayed or missing teeth. The good news is that we offer several options for missing teeth replacement in the form of dental bridges.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
There are numerous benefits to choosing dental bridges, including…
- The restoration of your ability to properly chew and speak
- The restoration of your smile
- The prevention of remaining teeth drifting out of position
- The maintenance of your face shape
- The proper distribution of your bite
Types of Dental Bridges
The first type of dental bridge we offer is simply called a traditional one. They are the type most opted for in the event of missing teeth and are held in place by the use of dental crowns cemented onto the adjacent teeth. They can be used when your adjacent teeth are natural; however, we will need to prepare those teeth for the crowns by removing their enamel. Enamel does not grow back, and this means that those teeth will always need the protection of a crown, even if you choose a different option later down the road.
Another type of dental bridges is a more conservative option referred to as Maryland bridges. The false tooth is held in position by a porcelain or metal framework that is bonded to the backs of the teeth closest to the vacant area. The absence of the need for crowns means that these surrounding teeth don’t need to be filed down. The downside to Maryland bridges is the lack of a crown means that the bridge is only as strong as the material that holds it in place and that the framework may bother your gums or your bite. Due to this, these bridges may not stay in place in specific areas of the mouth where your teeth undergo a lot of biting force. Whereas traditional bridges can be used on molars, Maryland bridges, then, cannot.
Cantilever bridges are the third option and are very similar to traditional bridges. The false tooth in Cantilever bridges can be supported by a single natural tooth instead of two. This is especially helpful when there is only one natural tooth near the gap. The neighboring tooth will need to be filed down for a crown in the same way as traditional bridges and the restoration may put too much force on the natural teeth in the surrounding area. This could result in issues such as fractured teeth or loosened crowns.
The final type of bridge we offer is implant-supported and is typically used when there is more than one tooth absent. Instead of relying on the support of crowns on the surrounding teeth, this type is held up by dental implants. One implant is placed for every missing tooth and those hold the bridge in position. If replacing every lost tooth with an implant isn’t possible, we can resort to implant-supported crowns acting as a structure for the fake tooth. The fact that these bridges are held in place by implants means they’ll feel a lot like natural teeth and will need to be cared for as such. There are, however, two surgeries required for this option. One is to insert the implants and the other to place the bridge, so it will take some time before it is finished.
What to Expect
During your first prescheduled appointment with us, we prepare the surrounding teeth for the crowns by removing a portion of their enamel. After that is finished, we make impressions of the teeth to serve as a model for the crowns, bridge, and false teeth. These will all be prepared outside of the office and our staff will provide you with a temporary bridge to protect your teeth and gums in the meantime.
At your second appointment, the temporary bridge will be removed and the new one will be examined and adjusted to fit properly. Multiple visits may be necessary to check that the fit of the metal framework is sufficient, but this is usually based on the individual and not the procedure as a whole. If the bridge is a fixed one, we will temporarily cement it into place for a couple of weeks to ensure that it is positioned properly and working well. You would then come in and have the bridge cemented in place.
For Your Reference
Dental bridges can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years – or even longer. With excellent hygiene and regular checkups, having a dental bridge last over 10 years is not uncommon. Additionally, dental bridges should help you eat and speak better than you did with missing teeth, though it may take some time to get accustomed to it. For eating, until you become used to it, you should try to eat soft foods that have been cut into smaller pieces.
If you have any questions or concerns about dental bridges or any other services we offer, feel free to contact our office today!