Teeth play a great role in your smile’s appearance and your overall health. Most of the time, broken or missing teeth can hamper the beauty of your smile. If you’re in search of a solution for missing teeth, it’s vital to understand the treatment options that are available to you.

A dental bridge is an amazing treatment option for anyone who has missing teeth, they are highly functional and cosmetic at the same time, but they aren’t for everyone. Learning all you can about dental bridges can help you determine if this option is for you.

What is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a fixed replacement for one or more missing teeth. They consist of one or more false teeth and abutment teeth that support the artificial teeth on each side. When a patient needs multiple bridges, it’s called a “full mouth rehabilitation.”

They fill the gap by creating one or more missing teeth. They can be either fixed or removable.

The Structure of a Tooth Bridge 

A bridge consists of two components:

Pontics or Artificial Teeth – The pontic is artificial teeth that are installed in place of missing teeth. Depending on the need and number of missing teeth, a dental bridge can have one or more pontics.

Anchor Crowns – This is a crown that holds the bridge in place to provide support for the pontic. They are cemented to the teeth adjacent to the toothless gap. To get a clearer understanding, imagine a bridge over a big river, the dental bridge is the bridge over the river and the anchor crowns along with the abutment teeth are the pillars.

Types Of Dental Bridges

Depending on the needs and the teeth, it can be classified into four types of dental bridges categories.

Traditional Bridges

A traditional dental bridge is the most recommended type of bridge. This is mainly used to restore the posterior (back) teeth such as premolars and molars.

This type of bridge is composed of one dental crown adhered to both the surrounding teeth with a fake tooth or teeth in between. With this, the dental crowns provide anchor points, while the fake tooth “bridges” the gap.

A pontic can be ceramic, porcelain fused to metal or all metal like silver and gold.

Traditional bridges are durable, strong, and could last a long time with proper care and maintenance.

A traditional bridge is the most popular type of dental bridge.

Cantilever Bridges

Cantilever dental bridges are similar to traditional bridges but can be used only on the front teeth. Cantilever bridges aren’t strong enough to support molars (back teeth).

For this type of bridge, a pontic is supported by an abutment on only one side, rather than on both sides. As the cantilever bridges are only supported on one side, there is a higher chance of complications like fractured teeth or loosened crowns, and they may not last as long as other bridges.

Cantilever dental bridges can only be used with one tooth being the anchor.

Maryland Bridges

A Maryland dental bridge is also called a resin-bonded bridge usually made from porcelain that’s fused to a metal tooth. This type of bridge is often recommended for the front teeth.

It is considered to be one of the most conservative alternatives to traditional bridges as it doesn’t require the adjacent teeth to have their enamel removed.

Maryland bridges are also a better option for filling the missing tooth gap when there is only one anchor tooth available for supporting the dental bridge.

Maryland dental bridge is made from porcelain that’s fused to a metal tooth.

Implant-Supported Bridges

Implant-supported bridges are another option for patients who have at least three teeth missing in a row. This type of bridge is typically used to restore premolars and molars.

As the name suggests, this type of bridge is supported by dental implants instead of a dental crown. Usually, one implant is placed for every missing tooth, and this series of implants holds the bridge in place.

However, the bridge may consist of a pontic suspended between two implant-supported crowns if placing one implant for every lost tooth isn’t possible.

Implant supported bridges are best for people with 3 or more missing teeth.

What Makes Someone a Good Candidate for Dental Bridge?

So, what makes someone a good candidate? Who is eligible? An individual with one or more missing teeth is a perfect candidate. Apart from that, other factors that determine the eligibility are:

Your overall health, teeth, and gums should be in good condition for a dental bridge.

  • Physical HealthThe candidate should have good overall health. At the time of shaping teeth for the bridge, the gums will be affected. Candidates will need to be able to handle that procedure, therefore, be sure to let the dentist know if you have any major past or present health conditions.
  • Gum HealthAn individual who is opting for pontics should also have healthy teeth and gums. People who have gum disease are not a good fit for a dental bridge.
  • Tooth HealthDental bridges need a supporting tooth, for that reason supporting teeth should be in good health. Using broken or fractured teeth will cause the bridge to fail. Overall, the candidate’s teeth should be healthy and free of decay.
  • Jawbone DensityJawbone density won’t play a role if you opt for traditional cantilever or Maryland dental bridges. But if you want an implant-supported bridge, your bone density should be able to support the bridge.

When Do You Need a Tooth Bridge?

Not everybody will need a bridge. but here are some instances when you might need it.

  • Restoring Toothless GapFor obvious reasons, if you have one or more missing teeth, you’ll need a bridge.

Dental bridges are the best way to restore your toothless gap.

  • Tooth Decay and Dental TraumaIf your teeth are showing signs of decay or if you experience dental trauma due to an accident, a bridge can easily fix the problem or prevent further tooth decay.

If your treated teeth are damaged, you can fix them by installing bridges.

  • Aesthetic Restorations A bridge can be used on teeth that are out of shape, out of place, and teeth that show discoloration.
  • Treatment of Occlusal DisordersAn occlusal disorder is a biting disorder, usually accompanied by pain and discomfort in the jaw muscles, headaches, eye pain, and other symptoms. A bridge can be an option to fix this problem.

A dental bridge is one of the best ways to treat occlusal disorders.

  • Replacing Old TeethIf you have an old restoration that doesn’t meet the functional and aesthetic demands, it’s time to replace the restoration. A bridge might be one of the best options for replacing older teeth.

9 Benefits of Dental Bridges

In this section, we will go over the benefits so you can feel informed and confident when seeking treatment.

A dental bridge can improve your smile, speech, face structure and your confidence.

  • Improve Your SmileAs mentioned at the start of the article, teeth play an important role in making your smile beautiful. When you feel confident about the appearance of your smile, you smile more often, which improves your quality of life.
  • Helps in Chewing and SpeakingAnother great thing about a dental bridge is it helps in the ability to chew properly and speak clearly. For an individual missing one or more teeth, it could be challenging and uncomfortable to chew certain food and speak some words.
  • Keeps Your Natural Face ShapeThe jawbone is meant to hold the root of a tooth. When missing a tooth or multiple teeth the jawbone beings to deteriorate and overtime can give your face a sunken look. A bridge can be used to replace the missing tooth or teeth and help restore the shape of your face.
  • Prevent Teeth from Moving/ShiftingA bridge not only replaces your missing tooth/teeth but also keeps other natural teeth from moving and shifting.
  • Cost-EfficientCompared to other forms of dental restoration such as dental implants, bridges are less expensive.
  • Faster Solution to Missing TeethIf you’re looking for a quick dental restoration solution for your missing tooth or teeth, a dental bridge is the best option, if you opt for a dental implant, it could take up to 6 months.
  • More Stability and Fewer Dental ProblemsIf the gap created by the missing tooth is left empty, multiple problems can arise. Your teeth and gums can become more susceptible to disease and decay. Also, the surrounding teeth can often sag out of position and drift into the space, creating issues such as a bad bite, gum periodontal, and jaw problems. A bridge can help prevent these issues from occurring, as it prevents the surrounding teeth from shifting out of place.
  • Easy MaintenanceBefore the bridge becomes part of a mouth structure, it will feel a little uncomfortable. Once it gets properly attached to the natural teeth, it’s easy to maintain and clean.

Procedures Involved in the Dental Bridge Process

The process involved in this procedure is often a concern to most people. These are the things that will be done in a bridge procedure.

First Visit Tooth Preparation and Temporary Bridge

  • AssessmentGetting an assessment is an initial step in the dental bridge procedure. This helps to assess the need for restorative dental treatment. The dentist will take X-rays of your jaw to understand the situation and make the best decision.
  • Abutment Teeth PreparationAfter the assessment, the dentist will tell if you need a bridge, crown, or dental implant. If you’re eligible for a bridge, your dentist will prepare your teeth for placement.

Abutment teeth will be shaped for the bridge and then the impression of the shaped teeth will be sent to a laboratory for construction.

A color sample will be taken, and in some cases, the patient will be given temporary dental bridges to protect the shaped teeth. A permanent bridge sometimes takes time to be constructed.

Tooth assessment and abutment preparation is the first step of dental bridge.

Second Visit — Permanent Bridge Placement 

At the second visit, it’s time to get your permanent bridge. Your dentist will carefully examine and remove the temporary bridge. And a new permanent bridge will be installed.

That’s it! You got your new teeth and your beautiful smile back.

Bridges are placed at the second visit to the dentist.

The Cost of a Dental Bridge

Several factors determine the cost of a bridge, such as insurance coverage, type of material, anesthesia, the preparation of the bridge, etc.

We can only give you the average national cost of a dental bridge.

Having said that, the cost of a bridge could range anywhere from $300 to $1,000 for a single tooth replacement.

If you opt for a cantilever bridge, the cost will be higher as it needs more extensive work.

How to Choose the Right Dentist for a Dental Bridge 

The cost of a bridge greatly depends on the dentist too.  To make sure you get the maximum return on investment, you must choose the right dentist.

Here are some tips that can help you choose the right dentist:

  • Training and AccreditationAlways look for a dentist who is licensed by the state medical board.
  • Experience and Past ResultsAlways choose a dentist who has maximum experience in placing bridges and look at photos of past patients.
  • Procedures and Materials OfferedNot all practitioners offer all types of bridges. Depending on the type of restoration you want you’ll have to choose your dentist.
  • One-on-One ConnectionIt’s important to have a comfortable relationship between the patient and the dentist. Don’t select a dentist right away. Look at how they talk and how comfortable you are with them. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable you’ll feel during your procedure.

How to Care for Your Dental Bridge

Installing bridges is not a complicated procedure but they still require regular maintenance like the rest of your teeth.

Here are things that you should do to maintain and care for your pontics:

  • Oral Hygiene TipsThe area that has a pontic is vulnerable to plaque buildup. For that reason, you should often rinse your mouth with mouthwash, brush your teeth twice a day, and regularly floss underneath the bridge.
  • Pain MaintenanceTraditional, Maryland, and cantilever bridges are a relatively painless procedure. However, if you opt for implant-supported bridges you might experience tooth sensitivity, gum tenderness, jaw swelling, and a little bit of pain. Your dentist might write you a prescription to manage the pain but always consult with your doctor before taking medication.
  • FoodAfter you get a pontic you should avoid eating sticky and chewy foods, hard foods, ice cubes, and extremely hot or cold beverages for a few days.

After placing a bridge, you should avoid hard, chewy and cold foods.

FAQs about Dental Bridges

Pontics can last 5 to 15 years and even longer. With good oral hygiene and regular checkups, it is not unusual for the life span of a fixed bridge to be over 10 years.

The bridging procedure is relatively painless because your dentist will use a numbing agent before the surgery begins. However, you will likely feel some minor discomfort after the numbing agent wears off.

It can be difficult to speak clearly when teeth are missing. After getting a dental bridge placed you may notice that you speak differently until you get used to it.

Loose bridges can often be easily removed and repaired, allowing your dentist to recement the bridge into place. However, the cement used to bond a bridge in place is designed to last for many years and it is not always possible to remove a bridge without causing damage to the support of surrounding teeth.

Replacing missing teeth with a bridge should make eating easier. Until you become accustomed to the bridge, eat soft foods that have been cut into small pieces.

A Solution to Your Missing Teeth

A dental bridge can be one of the best dental restoration options at a reasonable price. While each type of bridge has its pros and cons, only a general dentist can advise you on which type is best for you. Choosing the best dental bridge for you is a bridge to a better smile.

Having a dental restoration option such as pontics gives you extra motivation to maintain a high level of dental hygiene, which can only be positive. If you have to do it, you will – and your mouth will thank you for the rest of your life.

If you think you may benefit from installing a bridge, get in touch with us here at Kemper DMD for a consultation – we’re always happy to help and advise you.