A missing tooth is more than just a cosmetic issue. Sure, a missing tooth can affect the aesthetics of your face and smile, but it can also lead to serious oral health problems as well as issues with confidence and self-esteem.
Dental bridges are a great option for replacing missing teeth and filling gaps in your smile. A dental bridge is a prosthetic device designed to replace one or more missing teeth. While there are several different types of bridges, in general the artificial tooth (or teeth) is mounted onto the surrounding existing teeth or onto dental implants, effectively bridging the gap caused by the missing tooth.
Besides simply replacing the missing tooth/teeth, dental bridges offer a range of benefits including:
- Cosmetic improvements to your smile
- Makes chewing easier
- Clarifies speech
- Prevents teeth from shifting position
- Helps maintain face and jaw shape
- Strengthens your bite
- More comfortable and less movement than dentures
Types of dental bridges
There are a few different types of dental bridges. Your dentist will recommend different bridges depending on your situation, oral health, missing teeth and various other factors.
Traditional bridges are the most common type of bridge and are used when you have natural teeth remaining on both sides of the gap created by the missing tooth/teeth. They are generally made from ceramic or porcelain fused to metal. Crowns are created for, and cemented onto, the teeth on either side of the gap, with a pontic (or artificial tooth) suspended in between.
Cantilever bridges are similar to traditional bridges, but they are used when there is only one natural tooth next to the gap. The pontic is held in place by a crown that is fitted to only one tooth (instead of a tooth on either side). These are not as strong as traditional bridges and may only be suitable in limited circumstances.
Maryland bridges are also known as resin-bonded bridges. They are similar to traditional bridges in that they require natural teeth on either side of the gap caused by the missing tooth. However, instead of using crowns on the surrounding teeth, Maryland bridges use a metal or porcelain framework that is bonded to the backs of the surrounding teeth.
Implant-supported bridges use dental implants, rather than crowns or frameworks, to support the pontic. The implant is surgically placed into the jawbone, with the pontic fixed to the implant once it has had time to set into the bone. This process will take multiple trips to the dentist over a number of months. Implant-supported bridges are considered the strongest of all dental bridges.
Who is suitable for dental bridges?
Not everyone is a suitable candidate for dental bridges. Suitability for the process can depend on:
- General oral health
- Health and strength of surrounding teeth
- Jawbone density
- Cost considerations
- Dentist assessment and recommendations
- Personal preference
Since bridges are most commonly fixed to the surrounding teeth, the health of the nearby teeth and gums will need to be assessed to ensure the remaining teeth can support the bridge.
For implant-supported bridges, invasive surgery is involved and so a more detailed oral health assessment is involved to determine appropriate jawbone density, as well as general oral health.
To find out if dental bridges are right for you, talk to your dentist today.