The average U.S. adult has at least three missing or decayed teeth, according to The American Dental Association. Dental bridges are a type of fixed restoration used to replace one or more missing teeth. Traditional bridges are the most common type of dental bridge used when natural teeth surround a gap or missing tooth on both sides. There are also other types of teeth bridges available. These include cantilever bridges, Maryland bridges, and implant-supported bridges. It’s important to understand the options available to ensure that you make an informed decision about your smile.
Types of Dental Bridges
The four main types of dental bridges include:
Traditional bridges are known for being small, lightweight, and offering excellent chewing control as they help to distribute your normal bite force. This type of dental bridge consists of one or more pontic teeth held in place by two abutment teeth. An abutment tooth refers to a natural tooth that is given a crown to support the fake or “pontic” tooth.
Most traditional bridges are constructed of porcelain or ceramic fused to metal, making them strong enough to replace any tooth, including molars. The biggest downside to traditional bridges is the need to remove enamel from the abutment teeth to accommodate the crowns. As enamel does not grow back, these teeth will also need to be crowned from that point forward.
Similar to traditional bridges, cantilever bridges are attached to abutment teeth. However, instead of having an abutment tooth on each side of the gap, a cantilever bridge attaches to an abutment tooth on just one side. If well-designed, a cantilever bridge can work well on a front tooth. However, it is not recommended for use in the back of the mouth due to excessive bite force which could damage the bridge.
Maryland bridges are a cost-effective and efficient option that do not require the use of dental crowns. Instead, a fake tooth is attached to anchor teeth on either side using metal attachments that are bonded in place. Maryland bridges are most commonly used on front teeth and in cases where the adjoining teeth are in stable condition. The main downfall of Maryland bridges is that they tend to discolor or darken over time.
Implant-support bridges function similarly to traditional bridges. However, instead of the pontic being supported by two natural teeth with crowns, it is supported by dental implants on either side of the gap. Implant-supported bridges are most commonly used in situations in which a person has one or more missing teeth and there is a higher risk that putting too much pressure on individual implants would cause damage.
During this procedure, a dental implant may be placed for each missing tooth to create a series that supports the bridge. In addition to having a pontic tooth suspended between two implant-supported crowns, your dentist may choose to place an individual implant for each tooth. Two surgeries are typically required to complete the procedure and the overall process can take several months.
Caring for Dental Bridges
When properly placed by an experienced dentist, a dental bridge generally allows a patient to eat and chew normally without discomfort. However, it’s important to pay attention to how you care for your dental bridges after the procedure. Most patients return to their normal diet within seven to 10 days. However, it can take several weeks or months to become fully accustomed to having the bridge.
Some sensitivity is common within the first few days after the procedure, especially when eating hot or cold foods. Using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help curb any discomfort. There is a risk that decay could form under the dental crowns that hold up the bridge. In addition, food can become lodged beneath the bridge. To avoid tooth decay, it’s important to follow a strict oral hygiene regimen. This involves brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash.
Speak With a Dentist in Largo, FL
Dental bridges can help people with missing teeth achieve better dental health and wellness. To learn more about dental bridges or to find out if you’re a good candidate for this procedure, speak with our knowledgeable dental team at Bonham Dental Arts. Contact us today!