Missing one or more teeth is common for many people.
The ADA reports that on average adult patients may have three missing or decayed teeth. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions to replace missing teeth, including dental bridges.
A bridge may be used to restore an area with one or more adjacent missing teeth. A bridge has two primary components. The abutments (or supports) for the bridge are created by placing a crown on either a natural tooth or an implant. The synthetic tooth that replaces the missing tooth is called a pontic.
In the case of one missing tooth, the two teeth on either side will be prepped for crowns and the missing tooth will be replaced with a synthetic tooth that is connected to the crowns on either side of the missing tooth. In the case of several adjacent missing teeth, one or more implants may provide the abutment.
There are four main types of dental bridges:
Traditional Dental Bridge – This is the most common type of dental bridge. The existing teeth are crowned with one or more pontics between and held in place by the crowned abutments. The crowns are cemented onto the teeth adjacent to the missing teeth to create a support structure or “bridge” for the missing teeth.
Cantilever Bridge – This type of bridge is similar to a traditional bridge, except that the structure is supported on only one side instead of both sides. This can cause the restoration to act as a “lever” and may create additional stress on the supporting tooth, making it more likely to loosen or facture.
Implant Supported Bridge – Instead of using existing teeth to support a bridge a dental implant may be substituted to provide support for one or both sides of a dental bridge. This is a popular option that can provide a very secure restoration. This solution is particularly helpful when there are several adjacent missing teeth.
Maryland Bridge – This type of bridge is supported by a metal structure which is cemented onto the back of existing teeth. While not as strong as a traditional bridge, it can preserve the tooth structure of the adjacent teeth by avoiding the use of crowns for the abutments. It may not stay in place when heavy forces are placed on the restoration (such as biting and chewing) and does add pressure to the supporting teeth.
Contact our office to learn more about your restorative options and achieve the smile you have always wanted.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Bridges
What are the benefits of dental bridges?
Dental bridges are an affordable option for replacing one or more missing or hopeless teeth. A bridge can easily replace a row of teeth in one piece. It can attach to the natural teeth on either end of the bridge with crowns or dental implants can be placed as anchors.
Are bridges removable or permanent?
Bridges are usually permanent, but can be removable. A permanent bridge is cemented into place via crowns or metal attachments in the case of a Maryland bridge. A dental implant supported bridge is also permanent. A removable bridge is more like a partial denture that snaps into place between the teeth.
Does a bridge damage the teeth it is attached to?
In the case of a traditional bridge, the existing teeth on either end of the bridge are filed down and fitted with crowns. That tooth enamel is lost forever. Over time, the bridge may put strain on the crowned teeth as well, causing damage to the remaining natural portion of the tooth. The crowns eventually may need to be replaced with dental implants.
How long does a bridge last?
A traditional dental bridge can last anywhere from 10-15 years. An implant supported bridge may last just as long if not longer. Cantilever and Maryland bridges are not as secure, so they may only last 5-10 years before needing to be replaced.
Why should a missing tooth be replaced?
Many patients question why a missing tooth needs to be replaced. The problem with even one missing tooth is that it leaves a gap in your mouth that the other teeth will gradually shift into. This causes more teeth to be out of alignment, possibly resulting in bite issues, gaps between other teeth, and a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Do bridges require special care?
No, you don’t have to put any additional effort into caring for your bridge. Simply brush it when you brush your teeth and floss on either side of the bridge and the front and back of the supporting teeth. Go to the dentist every 6 months for regular cleanings and exams. Your dentist will check the condition of your bridge at each appointment and make any necessary adjustments.
How long does it take to get a bridge?
Getting a dental bridge can take as little as two appointments. The first one involves preparing the teeth for the bridge and making impressions to create the bridge. The second appointment involves fitting the bridge into place. It takes a few weeks between appointments for the bridge to be made in a lab and sent back to the dentist’s office.
Is a dental implant better than a bridge?
There are many benefits to a dental implant over a bridge, but it is not necessarily the best option for everyone. A dental implant is surgically placed in the jaw, which requires sufficient bone structure. If a patient’s jaw is not ready for an implant, a bridge can be used instead. And when there are multiple missing teeth, a bridge is more affordable than multiple implants. Your dentist will make a recommendation based on your individual needs.