Are dental bridges right for you?
Are you wondering how to restore your smile? For those who need to replace a missing tooth or fill in a gap of multiple teeth, dental bridges can be a useful, secure solution.
The reason there are different types of dental bridges is because everyone’s mouth has different needs. The basic dental bridge shape relies on two existing teeth, one on either side of the gap. Not everyone has that configuration, and some people might have gaps that are quite large. Over the years, dental bridges have changed and updated to meet all these needs. We’ll walk you through how dental bridges work and what each type brings to the table.
What is a dental bridge?
Simply put, dental bridges fill in gaps of missing teeth. The basic shape is one replacement tooth in the middle flanked by a crown on either side. From the outside, the crowns look the same as the replacement tooth. They’ll go over your existing teeth on either side of the gap, locking the tooth prosthetic into place. To prepare for the fitting, those teeth might go through a shaping process.
Dental bridges can include multiple replacement teeth in the middle if needed. And there’s also a variation called a cantilever bridge, which only covers the tooth on one side rather than both sides of the gap.
What are dental bridges made of?
Many dental bridges are made of porcelain to blend in with the look of your other teeth. They can also be made of gold or other metals. Some dental bridges are made from a mix of materials. For example, a type called the Maryland dental bridge is made of a porcelain tooth prosthetic with metal wings, and an implant-supported dental bridge will include implants with some metal components as well.
How do dental bridges differ from dentures?
If you’re searching for a way to fill in a gap, you and your dentist may have to decide between a dental bridge and partial dentures. These solutions are quite similar in that they both involve replacement teeth and are both secured to your existing teeth. The main difference is the level of attachment.
You can take dentures out and put them back in. Dental bridges, on the other hand, will stay in your mouth for several years until you need a replacement. Dental bridges are also more secure, meaning you won’t have to be as careful with the types of food you eat.
Different Types of Dental Bridges
We’ve gone over dental bridges in general, but there’s more than one option out there. These variations can accommodate cases involving a large gap or where a traditional bridge isn’t possible. Let’s start with the traditional bridge then go through situations where you might need a variation.
The classic dental bridge has one or more replacement teeth and a crown on either side to attach to your existing teeth. This bridge requires some preparation work on the teeth the crowns will attach to. And when it’s all done, the connections on either side of the gap will secure the replacement tooth in place.
The cantilever bridge, as we briefly described earlier, is a partial version of the traditional bridge. For this version, the tooth prosthetic attaches to one tooth rather than two. This might be a suitable option if you only have one available neighboring tooth to attach the tooth prosthetic to. One thing you’ll need to keep in mind, though, is that the cantilever bridge won’t put the same balance of forces on the attached tooth as a traditional bridge will. Talk to your dentist to see if this will be a problem for you.
Some dentists recommend against a cantilever bridge when the location is somewhere that needs a lot of biting or chewing power. In this case, it might make more sense to go with an implant or another type of bridge.
The Maryland bridge allows you to replace a missing tooth without needing to prepare the shape of the neighboring teeth. For this technique, the tooth prosthetic is attached to neighboring teeth from the back. There’s no full covering of those teeth, so there’s no need to shape them for the process.
Rather than crowns, Maryland bridges use porous metal wings to attach to the backs of the existing teeth. They aren’t as strong as traditional bridges, so you will likely have to replace them sooner. But for some, the simpler procedure is worth it.
If you need to fill a gap of more than one tooth, there are traditional bridges that can do this, but another option is something called an implant-supported bridge. Rather than attaching crowns to existing teeth, this type of bridge attaches the replacement tooth or teeth to implants that are secured to the jaw.
You can think of an implant-supported bridge as a cross between implants and a dental bridge. The basic design is very similar to a traditional dental bridge. Instead of attaching to other teeth, though, this version attaches to implants. Implant-supported bridges might be easier on your jaw than a traditional bridge if you’re filling in a gap of multiple teeth. And there are a few reasons why. For one thing, the number of pieces not directly attached to your jaw will be lower. If you’re filling in a gap of three teeth with an implant-supported bridge, you’ll only have one tooth prosthetic that’s not directly secured to your jaw. Two of the teeth filling in the gap will be implants.
And implant-supported bridges can relieve some stress that might otherwise accumulate on your other teeth. Because these bridges are supported by implants rather than your teeth, there’s less concern for how they’ll affect existing teeth.
The Dental Bridge Procedure
You might think the process of getting a dental bridge would require a lot of extra care. After all, you’re putting something new in your mouth! In reality, though, the process is much smoother than you might think. In most cases, you’ll be able to eat normally right after the procedure. And while the dentist will use local anesthetic measures, you can likely stay awake throughout the whole process without feeling what’s going on.
Find Your Way to a New Smile!
With the wide variety of dental bridge possibilities out there, there are more ways than ever to meet your dental needs. Talk to your dentist about maintenance and the specific procedure they use so you’re well-prepared for what’s to come.
You might find that a couple different types of dental bridges are suitable for your situation. Your dentist can help you decide between these types based on your dental history and budget. We hope this article has been a useful start! And if you’d like to set up an appointment with our office, you can go ahead and book an appointment right now! We’ll be happy to hear from you.