Missing one or more teeth can not only significantly alter the appearance of one’s mouth, but it may also affect the functionality of one’s smile. Much like partial dentures or implants, dental bridges serve to replace missing teeth. The process of bridging gaps in the mouth involves abutment teeth, which are used as the two anchors for the bridge, with the false tooth in between them. The false teeth are referred to as pontics and are composed of porcelain, gold, alloys, and even a combination of these materials.
Supported by implants or natural teeth, the best candidates for bridges are those who have teeth missing but the remaining teeth are in good enough condition to anchor the bridge properly.
Types of Dental Bridges
Illustration of a fixed partial denture
There are three main types of dental bridges commonly utilized today. As with every patient, determining what type of dental bridge to create will depend upon the individual’s mouth and the severity of the decay and damage of the remaining teeth. With the ability to be supported by either implants or natural teeth, the following are the most common types of dental bridges used:
- Traditional Bridges: a crown is created for the implant or tooth which resides of either side of the missing tooth, where the pontic (false tooth) is in between. These are by and far the most common type of bridge used and are typically made from porcelain fused to ceramics or metal.
- Maryland Bonded Bridges: also referred to as a Maryland bridge or resin-bonded bridge, a resin-bonded bridge consists of a cast metal framework that is cemented with resin composite to abutments which have preparations confined almost entirely to enamel. It requires little or no damage to the surrounding teeth during preparation for placement, and it is well tolerated by patients.
- Cantilever Bridges: when neighboring teeth are on only one side of the missing tooth/teeth, a cantilever bridge is often used due to the lack of support for the bridge. IIn this case, the cantilever bridge is able to support the false tooth from only one end.
Once it is established that a dental bridge is the chosen treatment plan, the dentist will sit down with the patient to discuss options and personal needs while determining a suitable action plan.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
Missing a tooth or multiple teeth is something that every person would like to avoid. From an aesthetic standpoint, missing teeth can make people feel as though their smile is inadequate. However, missing teeth can also affect a person’s speech, their ability to chew properly, and many other common daily actions. No matter what type of bridge a patient receives, they will feel much more confident about their smile after their custom bridge is created.
The following are some of the most essential advantages to dental bridges:
- Smile restoration
- Deterrence of speech impediments
- Assistance with easier chewing
- The shape of the patient’s face is maintained
- Avoid changes in occlusion (bite)
- Prevention of teeth shifting
- Prevent temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Keep teeth in proper position
Making the decision to get dental bridges is life-changing. Therefore, it is absolutely essential for all patients to thoroughly consider every option prior to making a final decision.
Living with Dental Bridges
When dental bridges are treated properly in terms of good oral hygiene and prophylaxis, they can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years and possibly even longer. Many patients fear that they will be unable to chew and eat normally once the bridge is in place. However, the majority of patients find that they are able to eat with much more ease following the treatment.
In addition, many patients fear that their speech will be significantly altered once a bridge is permanently seated. Nevertheless, the bridge actually helps speech, as all of the teeth are in place. As such, patients will see fantastic results once they receive dental bridges, as long as they are properly cared for. Patients must brush at least twice a day, floss, maintain a nutritional diet, and regularly see a dentist for a cleaning in order to keep the remaining teeth healthy.
James Family Dentistry is prepared to speak with you about your bridge options. Contact our Royal Palm Beach office to learn more today.