If you’re missing teeth, a dentist can close the gap and restore your smile with a dental bridge. A dental bridge has a false tooth that’s supported by the teeth on each side of the space. The false tooth, called a pontic, can be made from gold, porcelain, or hard plastics. Today, most bridges are made from porcelain. When they’re properly made and maintained, a dental bridge can last many years.
What Are the Main Types of Bridges?
A traditional dental bridge has a false tooth that’s supported by dental crowns that are glued onto each of the neighboring teeth. A traditional bridge is the most common dental bridge and works well when the teeth on either side can support the extra duty.
A cantilever bridge is similar to a traditional bridge, but it relies on just one crown cemented to a neighboring tooth. This design sometimes works best for front teeth that don’t undergo as much force as back teeth.
A Maryland dental bridge attaches to two natural teeth, one on each side of the space. However, the Maryland bridge uses small wings extending from the false tooth to attach to the natural teeth.
Implant-supported bridges rely on strong dental implants instead of natural teeth. In most cases, one implant is used for every missing tooth, but implants can be used to establish abutments that hold the bridge. For example, two implants can have a space between them and support a bridge.
Why Should I Consider a Dental Bridge?
Missing teeth have a number of implications. Chewing is the first step in digestion, and it’s important that food is ground and shredded before swallowing. When teeth are missing, it’s difficult to chew properly, and food may not break down. Larger pieces of food may lead to poor digestion and absorption issues.
Your smile matters to your confidence and success. A dental bridge can be a quick way to fix a gap in your smile. Cantilever and Maryland bridges are conservative ways to consider for front teeth. Plus, front teeth help tear food before your molars start the grinding process.
A dental bridge can help you balance your bite. Missing teeth can lead to improper support for your jaw, or irregular chewing patterns. When missing teeth are replaced and the bite is carefully considered in the process, you lower the stress level on your entire chewing system.
Missing teeth can also affect your speech patterns. Your tongue rests against the backs of the upper front teeth, and that helps support your pronunciation. A custom-crafted bridge can help speech and give you more confidence to speak up.
Dental bridges are a proven way to replace missing teeth and restore esthetics, function, and jaw dynamics. However, they’re not without some considerations. First, most of them rely on the surrounding teeth for support. That additional load can damage teeth over time. But good habits and homecare minimize the risk of failure.
Second, if a dental bridge fails, it may result in the loss of another tooth. Bridge failure happens around the base of the supporting teeth, usually from decay or gum disease. These ailments are preventable, and your homecare makes a big difference in long-term outcomes.
Third, dental bridges are custom-made in a dental laboratory by skilled technicians. In some cases, CAD-CAM techniques help produce precise bridges that only fit you. This process, and the skill and materials used by your dentist and lab, require an investment of time and money. But compared to other medical procedures, a dental bridge provides excellent value. Dental insurance may cover a portion of the associated costs.
A dental bridge used to be the main way to replace a missing tooth. It’s still a good option, but there are other possibilities. Dental implants deserve a look when you’re missing one or more teeth. A removable partial denture is a more economical consideration, and can even be used for a period before implants or a bridge.
You may also leave a space, but there are risks to open areas in your bite and smile. Teeth can drift or tip into the area, and that can cause more imbalance in your jaw. The best option is to discuss your specific situation with a dentist: Every situation is unique!
It’s essential that you feel confident in the dental team that treats you, and you gather all the information you need to proceed with care. Just Dental offers an easy, free way to ask licensed dentists questions. If you still have specific questions about dental bridges, feel free to use your site to ask a dental question.
If you need help to find a dentist, our directory lists dentists near you that can provide you with more information. We’re happy to help you connect with a provider in your area. Whether or not you decide on a dental bridge, you can explore options and keep a sharp focus on your dental wellness!