Dental Bridges

If you are suffering from tooth loss, you are not alone. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, around 120 million people in the US are missing at least one tooth. And while dental implants are the preferred option for tooth replacement, bridges are still popular, especially among patients who want a better non-surgical alternative to dentures.

What is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a tooth restoration method used to replace one or more missing teeth. Bridges are usually made of porcelain or ceramic and are supported by either natural teeth or implants. A typical bridge consists of an artificial tooth (pontic) attached to crowns (abutment teeth) on each side. It joins two teeth that are either next to each or on the same arch. 

Dental bridges are an important tool for restoring your smile after you've lost a tooth. Not only do they improve the aesthetics of your smile, but they also help to prevent your remaining teeth from shifting out of place. Bridges are less expensive than implants and can be completed in just two visits to the dentist. They are also more durable than dentures and will not slip or move around in your mouth as dentures can.

Implant Supported Bridge

Traditional Dental Bridge

Candidates for Dental Bridge

To be a candidate for a dental bridge, you must have healthy gums and adequate bone support for your teeth. If you have periodontal disease or other issues with your gums, the dentist will address these first before proceeding with a dental bridge.

Also, you must have natural teeth on either side of the space to support the restoration. The adjacent teeth are prepared by removing a portion of enamel to make room for crowns. These teeth will bear most of the chewing force when you eat, so they must be strong enough to handle this additional stress. Once the supporting crowns are in place, an artificial tooth is suspended between them. 

It is also important to consider your bite when deciding if a dental bridge is right for you. If your bite is not aligned properly, this can put undue stress on the dental bridge and cause it to fail prematurely. Dr. Samani will check if your bite is properly aligned before the procedure.

Advantages of Dental Bridges

Here are some of the advantages that dental bridges can offer:

  • They can help restore your smile after you have lose one or more teeth

  • They can help bring back the chewing function of your teeth

  • They can help restore your ability to talk normally

  • They can help correct any misalignment issues in your bite

  • They are durable and can last for many years

  • They can help prevent the remaining natural teeth from shifting out of position

Disadvantages of Dental Bridges

There are also some potential disadvantages to consider before getting a dental bridge

  • They require healthy adjacent teeth

  • It may take some time to feel comfortable eating and speaking

    with a dental bridge

  • They're not permanent and will eventually need to be replaced

  • Dental bridges typically cost more than other tooth replacement options

  • The abutment teeth may become damaged over time from supporting the bridge's weight.

  • The spaces between the false teeth and your gums can trap food and plaque, leading to decay and gum disease.

Types of Dental Bridges

There are four main types of dental bridges: traditional bridges, cantilever bridges, resin-bonded bridges, and Maryland-bonded bridges. Each type has its benefits and drawbacks. Dr. Samani will help you decide which type is best for you.

Traditional Dental Bridge

The traditional fixed bridge is the most widely used dental bridge. The structure is composed of two crowns with false teeth in between. The crowns are attached to the healthy teeth next to the gap, and the false tooth fills the space where the missing tooth used to be.

The drawback to choosing a traditional dental bridge is that your abutment teeth may need to be altered significantly to accommodate the dental crown supporting the false tooth. It may require a large amount of enamel from your abutting teeth, causing issues later on when they may not have enough strength even after being crowned. These abutment teeth can eventually become cracked or chipped without adequate protection and care. While this type of dental bridge provides excellent results and stability, it is usually more expensive compared to other types of bridges due to each of the unsupported crowns required for each side.

Cantilever Dental Bridge

Unlike a traditional bridge that uses two crowns on each side of the gap, a cantilever dental bridge is supported by one or more teeth on only one side of the missing tooth. This type is used when you have healthy teeth next to a gap, but not on both sides. 

There are several advantages to using a cantilever bridge. One advantage is that it does not require as much preparation of the adjacent teeth as a traditional bridge does. This can be important if the adjacent teeth are in good condition and need not be altered. Another advantage is that cantilever bridges can be less expensive than traditional bridges because they require less work to prepare the adjacent teeth. 

As with its drawbacks, cantilever bridges can put extra stress on the supporting tooth, causing it to break or loosen over time. Another disadvantage is that they may not look as natural as a traditional bridge because they only support the pontic on one side. 

Maryland Dental Bridge

Maryland dental bridge, also known as a resin-bonded bridge, is similar to a traditional bridge requiring two natural supporting teeth on each side of the gap. However, the pontics in a resin-bonded bridge are connected to a metal or porcelain framework instead of crowns. The wing-shaped framework is then bonded to your natural teeth using a resin adhesive. 

Resin-bonded bridges are less expensive than traditional bridges and require minimal teeth preparation. The drawback to resin-bonded bridges is that the metal wings are visible when you smile or open your mouth wide.

They are also less expensive than other dental bridges, but they are less strong and durable. Dentists usually use them for front teeth replacements, where they are not subject to as much force as the back teeth.

Implant-Supported Dental Bridge

With implant-supported bridges, the artificial teeth are supported by one or more dental implants. Unlike a traditional dental bridge, supported by the natural teeth adjacent to the gap, this bridge is supported by one or more titanium posts surgically implanted into the jawbone. The number of implants required to support an implant-supported bridge varies, depending on the size and location of the missing teeth. In some cases, as few as two implants may be sufficient. However, more commonly, four to six implants are needed. Placing the bridge requires two minor surgeries: one to install the fixtures into the jawbone and another to place the custom-made bridge.

Although implant-supported bridges are more expensive than traditional bridges, they offer many benefits, including improved function and aesthetics, increased comfort level, and greater durability. Additionally, they can help preserve the jawbone and prevent further bone loss.

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