If you are missing teeth, you’re not alone. The American Dental Association estimates that on average, American adults between 20 and 64 have three decayed or missing teeth.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge consists of two caps on existing teeth, with an artificial tooth (called a pontic) in between. This literally bridges the gap between the two healthy teeth in such a way that the bridge looks entirely natural and works just like your missing tooth.
Four Types of Dental Bridges
There are four options for bridges. After assessing your needs, we’ll recommend the right one for you.
The most common type of bridge, a traditional bridge spans the gap between two healthy teeth. The tops of the supporting teeth will need to be shaped to accept crowns, which along with the pontic will need to be made in a lab.
Once the bridge is ready, we cement the crowns in place along with the pontic. This type of bridge is strong enough to replace missing molars and will last for many years with proper care.
In cases where there is a supporting tooth on one side only, a cantilever bridge will be required. The procedure is identical to traditional bridges in that the supporting tooth will need to be reshaped to accept a crown. This crown will act as the support for the cantilevered pontic. This type of bridge is often not recommended to replace a molar as the amount of force being applied to the supporting tooth may result in fractures or a loosened tooth.
Traditional bridges do have one downside in that the supporting teeth will require crowns. A less extreme procedure is the Maryland Bridge, which is held in place by a metal or porcelain framework which is cemented to the back of the supporting teeth. This means no reshaping of the supporting teeth is required, and no crowns.
This type of bridge will not be as strong as a traditional bridge and may not be appropriate for replacing molars due to the amount of force that will be applied. That could result in the cement failing and the bridge needing to be reattached. Finally, you do need to be aware that the supporting framework may cause some discomfort inside your mouth until you get used to it.
Implant Supported Bridges
If you are missing more than one tooth in a row, an implanted bridge is the solution. Rather than being supported by surrounding teeth, this kind of bridge is supported by dental implants (artificial teeth that are permanently implanted in the underlying bone structure). In most cases, one implant will be used per missing tooth, however, sometimes it’s best to place a pontic between two implants.
This procedure can be lengthy and require multiple visits to complete the bridge, however, the final product will be very secure as it’s supported by implants and will look and feel like your real teeth.