Dental bridges offer a natural-looking, permanent solution to replace missing or damaged teeth.
A dental bridge is used to replace a missing tooth using a pontic (fake tooth) bonded to an adjacent tooth or teeth. Today’s dental bridges are often made out of porcelain, and are permanent, natural-looking replacements for missing or damaged teeth.
There are 3 common types of dental bridges:
- Traditional dental bridges are the most common. They consist of one or more pontics (fake teeth) held in place by crowns on either side.
- Maryland bridges work by attaching your pontic to just one side of your adjacent teeth, usually the back. The adjacent teeth do not need to be filed, making this a more conservative procedure.
- Cantilever bridges are a third option when there are only teeth on one side of the gap or missing tooth. However, cantilever bridges are not recommended for areas of the mouth that experience high stress, such as the back molars.
- Implant retained bridges – a dental implant placed into your jaw holds the bridge securely in place and is the closest solution to natural teeth.
Keep in mind that there are benefits and drawbacks to each type of dental bridge. Your dentist will help you find the option that’s right for you.
To help you make an educated decision regarding dental bridges, here are some of the pros and cons of this procedure:
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If you’re getting a dental bridge, you should plan on at least 2 appointments.
At your first appointment, your dentist will prepare the surrounding teeth for the procedure much like if you were getting a single crown. A minimal amount of tooth structure will be removed in order to attach the bridge firmly. Because of the level of precision needed to shape the teeth exactly right, this procedure may take up to or over an hour. Your dentist will also take impressions of your teeth and give you a temporary bridge to wear in between appointments.
At your second appointment, your dentist will replace your temporary bridge with a permanent bridge. This appointment may take place up to 3 weeks after your first appointment to give your dentist time to craft the permanent bridge.
The bridge should feel somewhat normal after the procedure. The bite should feel good, and the shape may take getting used to. We recommend eating soft foods if the tissue or teeth are sensitive to hot, cold, or pressure, but that will gradually get better after placement. If you experience sensitivity after the procedure, you may need to eat soft foods until the bridge feels normal in your mouth.
To maximise the life of your bridge, you should brush and floss regularly. In addition to flossing between teeth, you’ll need to floss under the fake tooth as well. Since flossing can be challenging with a dental bridge, there are tools your dentist can provide for you and demonstrate how they work that will make flossing under the bridge easier. These tools can be purchased over-the-counter in many cases as well.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re scheduling regular dentist appointments, and may want to increase the frequency of these appointments if dental health issues have caught you by surprise in the past.
If tooth decay and other issues are avoided, your dental bridge will last 10 years, as that’s the average lifespan. These can last longer than 10 years if taken care of properly.
Your alternatives to a bridge include:
- Implants, the gold standard for replacing a missing tooth. A dental implant is a small titanium post surgically implanted into your jaw bone to hold a replacement tooth. The benefit of using implants is that they don’t rely on neighbouring teeth for support, and they are permanent and stable.
- Denture or partial denture which consists of a removable frame or plate with an artificial tooth or teeth.
The short answer here is, “No.” Before the procedure, the dentist will apply local anaesthesia to numb the area. In general, the dentist will test if the patient still feels anything, asking if the area hurts when poked or prodded. If the answer is yes, then the dentist will wait for a few more seconds or minutes to allow the anaesthesia to settle.
The bridge and crown will serve as the replacement of your missing tooth/teeth, and as such, will function as your normal teeth would. In other words, you don’t have to worry about chewing, eating, spitting, sipping or swallowing with the bridges and crowns in place. If anything, they will return your dental functions back to normal.
Both dental appliances are installed to help return normal functioning, from biting food to chewing and everything else; and such, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Your dentist will be the one to determine which dental appliance is best for you, usually based on the number of teeth missing, the health of your gums, and the health of the teeth that will serve as the anchor.
When teeth are missing, it can impede proper enunciation of words. Wearing a dental bridge can help a person’s speech return to normal (particularly bridges that replace the front teeth).