Missing teeth can be both a cosmetic and functional concern. They can affect a person’s self-confidence and make it difficult to eat and speak properly. Fortunately, dental bridges are a common and effective solution to this problem.
A dental bridge is a fixed dental restoration that can replace one or more missing teeth by attaching to the adjacent teeth or dental implants. This article will explore the different types of dental bridges, how they work, their benefits and drawbacks, and what to expect during the procedure.
Types of Dental Bridges
There are several types of dental bridges, including traditional bridges, cantilever bridges, and Maryland bridges.
- Traditional Bridges: This is the most common type of dental bridge, which involves creating a crown for the tooth or implant on either side of the missing tooth or teeth, and then attaching a prosthetic tooth or teeth in between. Traditional bridges are typically made of porcelain fused to metal, all-ceramic, or all-metal materials.
- Cantilever Bridges: This type of bridge is used when there is only one tooth next to the missing tooth or teeth. The bridge is anchored to the adjacent tooth or implant on one side only.
- Maryland Bridges: Also known as resin-bonded bridges, this type of bridge is made of a metal or porcelain framework with a porcelain tooth or teeth attached. The bridge is bonded to the back of the adjacent teeth with a resin cement.
How Dental Bridges Work
Dental bridges work by anchoring the replacement teeth to the adjacent teeth or dental implants. The adjacent teeth or implants are prepared by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin to create room for the crowns that will hold the bridge in place. An impression is then taken of the teeth and sent to a dental lab to create the bridge.
Once the bridge is ready, it is placed on the prepared teeth or implants and cemented in place. The bridge is designed to match the color and shape of the surrounding teeth for a natural appearance.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges offer several benefits, including:
- Improved appearance: Bridges can fill in gaps caused by missing teeth, improving the appearance of the smile.
- Restored function: Bridges can restore the ability to chew and speak properly, which may have been compromised by missing teeth.
- Prevent shifting: Missing teeth can cause the remaining teeth to shift, leading to alignment issues and bite problems. Bridges can help prevent this from happening.
- Durability: Bridges are a long-lasting solution that can withstand normal wear and tear with proper care.
Drawbacks of Dental Bridges
While dental bridges offer several benefits, they also have some drawbacks to consider, including:
- Cost: Dental bridges can be expensive, especially if multiple teeth are missing.
- Maintenance: Bridges require regular brushing and flossing, as well as professional cleanings and checkups to maintain their integrity and prevent decay.
- Replacing existing teeth: In order to support the bridge, adjacent teeth must be prepared and may need to be reshaped. This can compromise the health of the existing teeth.
Procedure for Dental Bridges
The procedure for dental bridges typically involves two or more visits to the dentist. During the first visit, the teeth or implants on either side of the missing teeth are prepared and an impression is taken. A temporary bridge is then placed to protect the teeth and gums while the permanent bridge is being made.
Once the permanent bridge is ready, the temporary bridge is removed and the permanent bridge is cemented in place. The dentist will check the fit and adjust as necessary to ensure a
comfortable and natural fit. The patient will also receive instructions on how to care for the bridge and maintain good oral hygiene.
After the procedure, patients may experience some sensitivity and discomfort, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. It is important to follow the dentist’s instructions on how to care for the bridge, including avoiding hard or sticky foods, and maintaining good oral hygiene habits.
Dental bridges are a popular and effective solution for replacing missing teeth. They offer several benefits, including improved appearance and restored function, but also have some drawbacks to consider, such as cost and maintenance. Patients should discuss their options with their dentist to determine if dental bridges are the right choice for them.
Regular checkups and good oral hygiene habits are important for maintaining the health of dental bridges and preventing decay or damage. With proper care, dental bridges can provide a long-lasting and natural-looking solution for missing teeth. If you are experiencing missing teeth and would like to explore your options for dental bridges, schedule a consultation with your dentist today.