A dental bridge can be a solution if you are missing one or two teeth. While a bridge will not replace a tooth root, it will fill the gap and help your smile look more attractive while providing support for neighboring teeth so they don’t move out of place.
What Is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge consists of an artificial tooth, called a “pontic,” affixed to two dental crowns that are placed over the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth or teeth. The two crowns provide strength so that the artificial tooth can be used normally for biting, chewing, and speaking.
There are three main types of dental bridge:
Traditional: Dental crowns are placed over adjacent teeth and used to hold the false tooth in place.
Cantilever: Used when there is only one natural tooth available to support the artificial tooth. Cantilever bridges are rarely used since they can’t provide the same kind of strength as a traditional bridge.
Maryland: Also known as a resin-bonded bridge, a Maryland bridge is a more conservative solution for missing teeth that are not subject to strong biting force. Maryland bridges use a framework bonded to the adjacent teeth to keep the artificial tooth in place. The plus side is that your teeth will not need to be prepped for crowns, but the downside is that the resin bonding is not as strong.
Traditional dental bridges are the most common type since they can provide the best strength and stability. Dental bridges can last for ten years or more with proper care.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
- Dental bridges provide a number of benefits, including:
- Restored aesthetics
- Restored chewing and biting function
- Prevention of shifting by adjacent teeth
- Prevention of uneven wearing of the teeth
- Even bite tension
Bridges may also be partially covered by insurance, which is a benefit for some patients. However, a bridge cannot prevent the jaw bone from shrinking since it does not replace the tooth root. The only type of dental restoration that actually replaces the tooth root is a dental implant.
Are You a Dental Bridge Candidate?
If you are missing one or two teeth, you may be a candidate for a dental bridge. However, if you are missing a large number of teeth, you may be a better candidate for dentures or implant-supported dentures. Dr. Clancy will examine you and let you know what your options are during your consultation.
Ideal candidates for a dental bridge:
- Do not have gum disease or other oral health issues
- Are missing one or two teeth
- Understand all of their tooth replacement options
- Are okay with filing down adjacent teeth in order to place crowns
- Understand that a dental bridge may need replacement in the future
If you have tooth decay or gum disease, these issues should be treated before you undergo a dental bridge placement. A healthy mouth is necessary to support a bridge, and good oral hygiene habits are key to maintaining a bridge once placed.
Caring for a Dental Bridge
Dental bridges require no special care, but you should maintain good oral hygiene and make sure to visit Dr. Clancy twice a year for regular checkups and deep cleanings. Although you cannot floss between the crowns supporting the artificial tooth, you should still floss everywhere else. You may want to look into a water flossing tool in order to reach the areas you can’t floss with string.
You should also avoid eating too many hard foods such as hard candy or granola and avoid sticky foods such as toffee as well. These types of foods can lead to needing premature bridge replacement.