What Are Dental Bridges?
A dental bridge is a permanent restoration used to replace a missing tooth, or multiple missing teeth. Bridges are custom-made to blend in with your surrounding teeth and look completely natural. They restore the esthetic contours of your smile, and reinforce the relationship between your upper and lower jaw to give you a healthy bite and ensure that your mouth functions properly.
Who Needs Dental Bridges?
If you have a missing tooth or teeth due to tooth decay, injury, or gum disease, a bridge may be the best choice for your long-term oral health. When teeth are missing, the teeth on either side of the gap might encroach into that space, causing bite problems that can lead to pain. A bridge maintains the structure of your mouth and keeps your natural teeth in their correct position. It also restores the esthetic beauty of your smile.
The Benefits of Dental Bridges
A dental bridge is more permanent than a denture, and is a less invasive and less expensive option than a dental implant. Unlike dentures, bridges don’t need to be removed for cleaning or sleeping, and they fit much better in the mouth than dentures do. While a dental implant is also an excellent choice for replacing teeth, it’s a more invasive procedure, and a more expensive option that often isn’t covered by insurance.
Your teeth are intended to work together. If you have missing teeth for an extended period, your nearby teeth may shift, causing structural instabilities in your mouth. This can cause:
- Bite problems
- Difficulty chewing
- Pain from stress on your jaw and natural teeth
- Lack of confidence in your smile
What does a dental bridge look like?
A typical dental bridge consists of the following:
- Pontic: An artificial tooth or teeth on a fixed dental prosthesis. The pontic looks like a natural tooth, and fills the gap caused by the missing tooth, restoring the function of your mouth and the esthetics of your smile.
- Abutment teeth: The tooth or teeth that support and retain the pontic. The abutment teeth can be either your natural teeth or dental implants.
Types of available dental bridges:
There are four main types of dental bridges:
- Traditional fixed bridge: This is the most common type of dental bridge. To be installed, the patient needs to have natural teeth on both sides of the missing tooth. This is because the artificial tooth is attached to dental crowns on the adjacent teeth. The crowns are cemented to the natural teeth, while the pontic attaches to the gap of the missing tooth. Traditional fixed bridges are typically made of porcelain fused to metal or ceramics.
- Implant-supported bridge: This bridge is similar to a traditional dental bridge, except the pontic is held in place by implant teeth instead of natural teeth.
- Cantilever dental bridge: The artificial tooth is anchored to just one abutment tooth. A cantilever bridge is usually used when there is an abutment tooth on only one side of the gap.
- Maryland dental bridge (resin-bonded bridge): This bridge is for missing front teeth. Because of the highly visible location at the front of the mouth, crowns aren’t placed on abutment teeth. Instead, thin metal “wings” are bonded to the back of the abutment teeth to hold the bridge in place.
In most instances, a temporary bridge is installed while a permanent dental bridge is crafted from impressions taken from the patient’s mouth.