Teeth play a great role in your smile’s appearance and 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.

Dental bridges are 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 is a treatment option 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 dental bridge on each side. When a patient needs multiple dental bridges, it’s called a “full mouth rehabilitation.”

Dental bridges bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth. It can be either fixed, which means that they are permanent, or removable, which means that a person can take them out

Types Of Dental Bridges

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

  • Traditional Bridges – Traditional dental bridges are the most commonly recommended types of dental bridges. 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 the between. With this, the dental crowns provide anchor points, while the fake tooth “bridges” the gap.

A dental bridge can be of 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. 

  • 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 may not last as long as other bridges. 

  • Maryland Bridges – Maryland bridges are also called resin-bonded bridges 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. 

  • 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 teeth, such as premolars and molars.

As the name suggests, this type of bridge is supported by a dental implant 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.

The Structure of a Tooth Bridge 

A dental bridge consists of two components:

  • Anchor Crowns – Anchor crowns are 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.

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

What Makes Someone a Good Candidate For a Dental Bridge? 

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

  • Physician Health – A candidate for a dental bridge should have good oral health and should be overall healthy. At the time of shaping teeth for the bridge, the gums will be affected. Candidates should 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 Health – An individual who is opting for a dental bridge should also have healthy gums. People who have gum disease are not a perfect fit for the bridge. Before taking up the bridge procedure, the patient should take care of the gum problems. 
  • Tooth Health – Dental 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 teeth should be healthy and free of decay. 
  • Jaw Bone Density – Jaw bone 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 dental bridge. However, there are instances that you might need a dental bridge. 

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

  • Tooth Decay and Dental Trauma – If your teeth are showing signs of decay or if you experience dental trauma due to accidents, a dental bridge can easily fix the problem. 
  • When The Treated Teeth is Damage – If you see any sign of destruction or erosion on your previously treated teeth. A dental bridge can help restore the destructions, erosions, or large fillings. 

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

  • Replacing Old Teeth – If you have an old restoration that doesn’t meet the functional and aesthetic demands, it’s time to replace the restoration. A dental 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 of dental bridges so you can feel informed and confident when seeking treatment.

  • Improve Your Smile – As 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 Speaking- Another great thing about the dental bridge is it helps in the ability to chew properly and speak clearly. For an individual without one or more teeth, it could be challenging and uncomfortable to chew certain food and speak some words.
  • Keeps Your Natural Face In Shape – The jawbone is meant to hold the root of a tooth. The jawbone that has a missing tooth will deteriorate itself after some time giving you a sunken look. A dental bridge can be used to replace the missing tooth area.
  • Prevent Teeth from Moving/Shifting – A dental bridge not only replaces your missing tooth but also keeps other natural teeth from moving and shifting.
  • Dental Bridge Are Cost-Efficient – Compared to other forms of dental restoration such as a dental implant. Dental bridges are less expensive.
  • Faster Solution to Missing Teeth – If 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 Problems – If 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, or 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.
  • Aesthetic – A dental bridge can add beauty and bring your smile. It can help to improve self-esteem and confidence in patients who are uncomfortable about their appearance with missing teeth.
  • Easy Maintenance – Before 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 a dental bridge procedure is often a concern to most people. These are the things that will be done in the procedure of a dental bridge. 

First Visit – Tooth Preparation and Temporary Bridge

  • Assessment – Getting 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 Preparation – After the assessment, the dentist will tell if you need a dental bridge, crown, or dental implant. If you’re eligible for a dental bridge, your dentist will prepare your teeth for placement. 

Abutment teeth will be shaped for the bridge to be placed. And then the impression of the shaped teeth will be sent to a laboratory for construction. A teeth color sample will be taken, and in some cases, the patient will be given a temporary bridge to protect the shaped teeth. A permanent bridge sometimes takes time to be constructed. 

Second Visit — Permanent Bridge Placement

On 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. 

Close up photo of woman having dental health check-up at dentist’s office

The Cost of a Dental Bridge

Several factors determine the cost of a dental bridge, such as insurance coverage, types of material used, anesthesia used, 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 $1000 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 dental bridge greatly depends on the dentist too. If you plan to get a bridge, anyhow you’ll be investing some money. To make sure you get the maximum ROI, you must choose the right dentist. Here are some tips that can help you choose the right dentist. 

  • Training and Accreditation – Always look for a dentist who is licensed by the state medical board. 
  • Experience and Past Results – Always choose a dentist who has maximum experience in placing dental bridges. 
  • Procedures and Materials Offered – Not 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 Connection – It’s important to have a comfortable relationship between the patient and the dentist. Don’t select a dentist right away. Look at how he/she talks 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

Though dental bridges are not complicated procedures, you must take care of them. Here are things that you should do to maintain and care for your dental bridge:

  • Oral Hygiene Tips – The 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 Maintenance – Traditional, Maryland, and Cantilever bridges are relatively painless procedures. However, if you opt for implant-supported bridges you might experience tooth sensitivity, gum tenderness, jaw swelling, and a little bit of pain. You should take the pain medication prescribed by the dentist to minimize pain. 
  • Food – After the dental bridge procedure you should avoid eating sticky/chewy foods, hard foods, Ice cubes, and hot & cold beverages for a few days. 

FAQs About Dental Bridges

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.

Dental bridges 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.

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

It can be difficult to speak clearly when teeth are missing. Wearing a dental bridge with the anterior teeth in their proper relationship will help you speak properly.

A dental bridge 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. 

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 dental bridge has its pros and cons, ultimately 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 a dental bridge 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 a dental bridge, get in contact with us here at Kemper DMD for a consultation – we’re always happy to help and advise you.