According to the ACP, 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. Missing teeth can not only affect your confidence but also increase the risk of infection. Fortunately, there are several options available to restore your beautiful smile—one of which is dental bridges.
If you’re considering dental bridges for teeth replacement, read on to learn more about the types of bridges, advantages, disadvantages, and how the procedure can help you.
What Are Dental Bridges?
Dental Bridges refers to an artificial tooth or row of teeth attached to natural teeth or implants. As their name suggests, they “bridge” the gap caused by the missing teeth. To get dental bridges, you need healthy teeth on both sides of the missing teeth gap.
Though bridges can be made from many materials, porcelain is the most popular material of choice as it can blend well with your natural tooth color.
Types of Dental Bridges
It is the most popular kind of bridge. Traditional dental bridges are only possible if you have teeth on either side of the gap caused by the missing teeth. Your new, artificial tooth or teeth are held in place by dental crowns that are attached to the adjacent teeth on both sides.
Maryland dental bridges are similar to traditional ones in that they use both adjacent teeth on either side of the missing tooth gap. However, the bridge is supported by a metal or porcelain framework attached to the supporting teeth instead of dental crowns.
Unlike traditional and maryland bridges, cantilever bridges require only one supporting, natural tooth. The false tooth or teeth—also called pontics—is kept in place by a single dental crown cemented to one abutment or adjoint tooth.
The implant-supported bridge is considered to be the most stable and strongest of the four as it relies on dental implants to keep the pontics in place.
With this type of implant, two surgeries are needed. During the first surgery, an implant is put in for every missing tooth. The second surgery is to fit you with your new teeth. The procedure is usually spread across a couple of months.
In places where it is impossible to insert a surgical implant, the bridge can support a pontic in the middle of two implant-supported crowns.
The Dental Bridge Procedure
Installing a dental bridge involves several trips to the dentist’s office. During your first visit, your dentist will remove parts of the supporting teeth enamel and dentin to make room for the dental crowns.
Your doctor will then take impressions or a digital scan of your teeth and send the results to a laboratory. While waiting for the lab to make your bridge, a temporary bridge will be inserted to cover the exposed area.
You will have your next visit after the bridge has been made. The temporary bridge will be removed, and your permanent one will be fitted and secured in place. To ensure that the bridge fits comfortably, your dentist will carefully check the bridge and make necessary adjustments.
After the Procedure
You may need a little time to adjust to your new bridge. It is completely normal to experience mild discomfort and swelling once the procedure is over. Gargle with one tablespoon of salt mixed with four ounces of warm water to help reduce any irritation.
If however the discomfort persists or gets worse, contact your dentist immediately.
Pros vs. Cons of Dental Bridges
Replaces Missing Teeth
This is the biggest advantage of getting dental bridges. A gap in the dental cavity can cause the surrounding teeth to shift around, resulting in overcrowding and misalignment. But, the dental bridge holds the adjoint teeth in place and reduces the risk of movement and consequent bite problems. They also enable you to chew, eat, talk, and smile more confidently.
Compared to other tooth replacement procedures like dental implants, bridges are a less invasive treatment option. With dental implants, you might need to get additional surgeries like bone grafts which have a lengthy recovery period. Bridges don’t require bone grafts—they just need healthy supporting teeth.
Unlike dentures, you don’t have to remove and clean bridges regularly. You just need to care for bridges like you would for your natural teeth—brushing twice a day, flossing, and using an antiseptic mouthwash.
According to the American Dental Association, dental bridges usually cost between $500 to $1,200, while dental implants can cost up to $2,500 per tooth.
Loss of Enamel
Parts of the enamel and dentin of supporting teeth need to be shaved off to fit the crown. This increases the risk of permanent damage to the adjoint teeth if the bridges and crowns are not properly fitted.
Does Not Treat Bone Loss
When a tooth is missing for a long time, the part of the jaw bone that previously supported the missing tooth begins to dissolve. Implants have artificial roots screwed into the jaw bone to promote bone growth. On the other hand, bridges sit above the gum line and don’t have roots.
Can Have a Shorter Lifespan
In some cases, bridges can cause damage to the anchor teeth, making it hard for them to remain in place. If the adjoint teeth are weakened or don’t have enough strength to support the bridges, they might collapse and cause further complications. With proper maintenance however, bridges can last up to 10 years, allowing you to have a more bright, confident smile for years to come.
Get Your Smile Back!
Looking for teeth replacement options in Coralville, Iowa? The Family Dental Center team can walk you through the different treatments and help you make the right choice to protect your smile and oral health. Our years of experience and knowledge will have you smiling brightly and confidently. Visit our patient resources page to set up your consultation and find out how we can help you get the results you are after!