Complete Your Smile With Dental Bridges
Dental bridges can help you restore your mouth’s look and functionality when one or more of your teeth are missing. Typically designed as a unit of several dental crowns, bridges are:
- Durable, with proper care and maintenance can last many years.
- Able to improve your ability to chew food
- Able to help speech impacted by missing teeth
- Able to prevent your remaining teeth from shifting into gaps left by missing teeth
Bridges are much quicker to manufacture and place than implants or dentures and are minimally invasive, requiring little reshaping of abutment teeth. They are also a much more cost-effective solution than dentures or implants, and insurance often covers them.
The Different Types of Dental Bridges
There are four types of dental bridges used in cosmetic and traditional dentistry. Their use depends on the type and severity of your case:
- Traditional dental bridges Traditional bridges are the most popular types of dental bridges. They are used when your natural teeth surround a missing tooth or gap on both sides. These bridges consist of one or more pontic teeth that are held in place by two abutment teeth. “Abutment teeth” are natural teeth that are given dental crowns to support the fake teeth, or “pontic teeth,” between them.
Traditional bridges, usually made of ceramic or porcelain fused to metal, are strong enough to replace molars. However, there is a downside to traditional bridges. To put dental crowns on your adjacent teeth, your dentist will need to remove some of the enamel from the two teeth to make room for the crowns on top. Removing enamel is irreversible since enamel doesn’t grow back. These teeth will always need to be protected with crowns, even if you are fitted with a different type of dental bridge later on.
- Cantilever bridges are like traditional bridges, but with one major difference. A cantilever bridge is held into place by a single crown and only needs to be joined to one healthy abutment tooth. Similar to traditional bridges, cantilever bridges are attached to an abutment tooth, but just on one side. When natural teeth are only present on one side of a gap, cantilever bridges are used so a bridge can still be secured. Like traditional bridges, your dentist will need to prepare the adjacent tooth to support the bridge by removing its enamel. And because cantilever bridges are only supported on one side, the Journal of American Science notes a higher chance of complications like fractured teeth or loosened crowns.
- Maryland bridges require two natural teeth on either side of a tooth gap. Unlike conventional bridges, however, Maryland bridges do not use crowns on the abutment teeth. Instead, they connect to a bonding affixed behind the teeth, hidden from view. Maryland bridges, or resin-bonded bridges, are often recommended for replacing teeth at the front of the mouth. These bridges use metal or porcelain bands to bind a pontic tooth to the backs of adjacent natural teeth.
Although considered a more conservative alternative to traditional bridges, Maryland bridges do not require adjacent teeth to have their enamel removed, as the bridge doesn’t need to be held in place by crowns. The downside of this is that Maryland bridges are not as durable as traditional bridges. The Maryland bridge is only as strong as the binding material that holds it together, so it may not stay in place in areas like the molars where teeth experience a lot of biting force.
- Implant-supported bridges offer a more robust and permanent solution and are a combination of implants and dental bridges. The major difference is that the bridge is supported by surgically placed implants instead of actual teeth. Implant-supported bridges are similar to regular dental bridges, but instead of being supported by natural teeth, they are supported by dental implants. These bridges are used when you have more than one missing tooth or when there is a higher chance you could put too much pressure on individual implants that are not connected.
Here’s how they work: One dental implant is placed for every missing tooth to create a series that holds the bridge in place. In some cases, your dentist may include a pontic tooth suspended between two implant-supported crowns if it’s not possible to place one implant for every lost tooth. Since two surgeries are required for implant-supported crowns, one to set the dental implants and one to place the bridge, be prepared for the process to take several months to get your finished implant-supported bridge.
The Dental Bridge Process
Our process of creating and placing dental bridges usually takes two visits to our office. During your first visit, our dental team will prep the abutment teeth for crowns by reshaping them so the crowns can attach securely. They will then take impressions of your teeth to send off to a lab that will create your bridge. The doctor will then place a temporary bridge.
When your bridge is ready, we will have you come back to our office so the doctor can check your bridge. They will then adjust it as necessary and permanently place it into your mouth with bonding material. You will then be sent home with a list of aftercare instructions to make sure your new bridge will last for years to come.
Caring for Dental Bridges
Every type of dental bridge requires a commitment to attentive oral care. Most dental bridges last five to seven years, but with good oral hygiene, they could last ten years or longer. Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about how to effectively clean your dental bridges and consider avoiding foods that are more likely to cause problems, like nuts, caramel and popcorn.
You’re not far from rocking your smile with confidence once again. With so many types of dental bridges available, you and your dentist can easily find the best fit for you!
Dental Bridge Installation in Bowie, Maryland
Superior Cosmetic & Family Dentistry proudly serves in and around Bowie, Maryland, providing cosmetic and traditional dentistry for patients of all ages. If you are missing teeth and think a dental bridge may be for you, give us a call at (301) 464-2323 or schedule an appointment online. Our professional team will help answer your questions and decide the best course of treatment for your needs.