What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is a fixed prosthetic device that fills a gap left by one or more missing teeth. This device is cemented to existing teeth or implants by a dentist or prosthodontist. A bridge is designed to mimic the function and look of your natural teeth. They are cemented to remaining teeth or to implants inserted into the space left by a missing tooth.
What will a dental bridge do for me?
If you’ve lost one or more teeth, that gap can cause various problems. Remaining teeth can shift, causing bite dysfunction. A dental bridge fills this gap, preventing such shift. Your dental bridge will also serve to strengthen adjoining teeth. Teeth support each other, and a missing tooth means missing support.
In addition to restoring your bite and strengthening tooth structure, bridges have aesthetic value as well. Modern dental bridges are designed to closely mimic the look and feel of your natural teeth. Therefore, dental bridges can restore your smile as well. This results in greater poise, more personal self-confidence, and increased social ease.
Types of dental bridges
If you have a missing tooth or teeth, you are not alone. In fact, the American Dental Association reports that the average adult between 20 and 64 years of age has three decayed or missing teeth. The good news is that at The Dental Studio of South Tulsa, you have several options available for dental bridges.
Traditional Dental Bridges
The most popular kind of bridge is still a traditional dental bridge. These are the least expensive type and are widely available. They consist of one or more one or more false teeth held in place by crowns. The downside to traditional bridges is that in order to attach them your dentist must remove enamel from adjacent teeth in order to attach the crowns that will support the bridge. Since enamel does not grow back, these adjacent teeth will always need to be protected by crowns.
In order to use a traditional bridge, you must have existing teeth on both sides of a gap. If the gap is adjacent to only one tooth, a cantilever bridge is a possible solution. This is very similar to a traditional bridge. Your dentist will prepare the adjacent tooth and affix a crown to support the false tooth. However, since the bridge is supported on one side, cantilever bridges are prone to problems like fractured teeth or loosening crowns.
Patients looking for a more conservative approach may consider a Maryland Bridge. This type of bridge consists of a false tooth held in place by a supporting structure metal or porcelain. In this case, the metal or porcelain structure is cemented to the backs of adjacent teeth.
The Maryland bridges have the advantage of requiring no filing of the adjacent teeth. However, the supporting structures can be felt by the tongue and may be uncomfortable or may get in the way of your natural bite. Supporting structures may also become loose and need to be reset over time.
The most secure option for replacing missing teeth is an implant-supported bridge. In this option, a false tooth is held in place by dental implants bonded to the jawbone. These implants closely mimic the function of natural roots and are extremely secure. This method is generally used when you have more than one missing tooth.
In most cases, your dentist will place one dental implant for each missing tooth. However, occasionally this is not possible. In these cases, a bridge will consist of a false tooth supported by two implant-supported crowns.
Because they are supported by dental implants, which are bonded to the jawbone, these bridges are very secure and strong. In addition to their strength and security, they also feel very natural and comfortable, just like the natural teeth they replace.
The downside to implant-supported bridges is that they require two surgeries. In your first visit, your dentist will install the implants. Then, a few months later, you will return to receive your finished bridge.