Dental bridges are a type of fixed artificial tooth replacement option for those who have one or more missing teeth. Dental bridges are known as such since they are designed to literally bridge the gap caused by one or more missing teeth in the mouth.
A dental bridge uses an artificial tooth, known as a pontic, to take the place of the missing tooth in the mouth. The pontic receives support from the natural teeth adjacent to the missing tooth, which are known as abutments. The abutments are connected to the pontic with the help of dental crowns that are placed onto the natural teeth. A dental bridge can be used to replace more than one tooth; as the number of pontics increase, so do the number of abutments.
Types of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges have been around for decades and can be made from a variety of materials like gold, stainless steel and porcelain. Because of their esthetic value, bridges made from porcelain and porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) are more commonly preferred by patients.
Based on their design, there are four main types of dental bridges.
A traditional bridge consists of one or more pontics attached to dental crowns on either side, which are cemented onto the natural teeth abutments. These are the most popular and most commonly used types of dental bridges and require the presence of natural teeth on either side of the missing tooth.
Cantilever bridges are similar to traditional bridges with one exception. These types of bridges are designed such that the pontic is attached to an abutment on just one side of the missing teeth instead of both sides. Cantilever bridges need the presence of just one natural tooth adjacent to the missing tooth. These types of bridges are not used very commonly though. This is because cantilever bridges derive unstable support from just one side and do not have a very high success rate.
Like traditional bridges, Maryland bridges use abutments on both sides of the pontic to support the dental bridge. However, instead of dental crowns, the pontic is supported by a framework with metal or porcelain wing-like extensions that are cemented onto the backs of the abutment teeth. Like cantilever bridges, Maryland bridges do not have good support and are usually avoided.
As the name suggests, these type of bridges derive support from an implant framework instead of tooth abutments. An implant is surgically placed in the jawbone in the area of the missing tooth and then capped with a dental crown. One implant may be placed for each missing tooth, or a dental bridge may be constructed with one or more pontics suspended between implant-supported dental crowns.
What are the Benefits of Dental Bridges?
- Dental bridges are a fixed type of restoration, which enables the wearer to smile, talk and eat comfortably.
- Compared to removable dentures, it is much easier to get accustomed to eating and talking with dental bridges.
- Prevents the migration and drifting of teeth into the space left by missing teeth, which can cause problems with the bite of the individual.
- It does not require long appointments for fabrication. A dental bridge procedure can be completed within 2-3 visits to the dentist.
- With the right care and oral hygiene maintenance, dental bridges can easily last 10-15 years.
Procedure for Dental Bridges
The procedure for dental bridges is a simple one and is usually done under local anesthesia. After numbing the area around the dental bridge placement, the dentist will file down the teeth that will serve as abutments for the bridge. The abutments are reduced in size to make space for the dental crowns that will be placed on them.
The number of abutments used are directly proportional to the number of pontics that will be used for replacing the missing teeth. Once the tooth preparation is done on the abutments, the dentist will take an impression of the teeth and the area where the dental bridge will be placed. The impression is sent to the dental laboratory for fabrication of the dental bridge. It may take a few days to a week for your dental bridge to arrive, and a temporary bridge may be placed onto your teeth to protect the tooth preparation.
The temporary dental bridge is replaced by the permanent restoration once it arrives from the dental laboratory. The dentist cements the dental bridge into place after checking for its fit and making sure there is no need for any adjustments.
In cases where a dental bridge receives support from a dental implant, the dental implant surgery precedes the bridge procedure. Dental implant surgery usually involves a waiting period of a few months to allow for the integration of the dental implant into the jawbone. This wait period is added to the entire duration of the dental bridge treatment.
There is little to no recovery period after dental bridge procedure is completed. Once the dental bridge is fixed in place, the patient can continue to use it much like they would use their natural teeth. Most patients are able to adapt to eating and talking with a dental bridge within a few days to a couple of weeks. In case of persistent pain or discomfort upon using the bridge, a visit to the dentist is definitely warranted.
Caring for a Dental Bridge
Just like our natural teeth, dental bridges require regular cleaning and maintenance as well. Dental bridges can be cleaned with routine brushing and flossing techniques, which is necessary to prevent accumulation of food debris and plaque around the edges of the bridge. In the absence of good oral hygiene, the accumulation of plaque can lead to decay of the abutment teeth underneath the dental bridge. This, in turn, can cause the failure of the dental bridge as a permanent restoration.
Patients are also advised to avoid chewing on hard foods to protect the structural integrity of the bridge and prevent chances of breakage and fracture of the dental crowns.
To know more about dental bridges and whether you are the right candidate for the same, get in touch with our team at Le Sueur Family Dental today.