What is dental bridge?
Dental bridge is the fixed restoration that fills the empty spaces of your missing teeth with custom-made false teeth. Dental bridges actually bridge between the healthy teeth, where there are tooth or teeth that are missing. Dentists use your natural teeth (abutment teeth) next to the missing area to anchor the false tooth or teeth and hold them in place in between.
If your teeth are worn down and there are not enough natural teeth for anchoring your dental bridge, dentist can use implant-supported bridges. Any dental bridge consists of:
- Pontic: it is the false tooth (artificial tooth) that is seated on your missing tooth. Depending on the number of missing teeth, dentist will fix several pontics on place.
- Abutment tooth: abutment is your natural teeth around the missing tooth. These natural teeth will anchor the pontic and hold it, so dentist prepare them and make a strong crown on these natural teeth to bear the pressures and loads of the pontic.
What is dental bridge made of?
You will be happy to know that your bridge is made from biocompatible and cosmetically beautiful materials, which do not have any risks for your oral and dental health. Pontics can be made from all-metal, all-ceramic or metal-ceramic depending on where it should seat and tolerate pressures and load. You can choose the most beautiful materials like porcelain to mask or veneer the outer surface and metal for inner cores for your artificial teeth.
But ceramics like porcelain, new composite materials and zirconia are all beautiful and strong materials that can be used for your dental bridge whether for artificial teeth or for crowns in the neighboring teeth used as anchors. Even there are some people that beauty is not important for their missing back teeth and will go for the all-metal false teeth.
Types of dental bridge
- traditional tooth-supported bridge: the most common bridge type, which uses your natural teeth as abutments for anchoring the artificial tooth
- Cantilever fixed bridge: it is similar with traditional bridge except for one thing. You only need one abutment tooth at one end of the bridgework. Dentists generally use this type of bridge for replacing one tooth.
- Implant-supported bridge: if your natural teeth are not healthy enough to hold a bridge in place or if there is a long span of missing teeth(for example missing 3 to 6 teeth), dental bridges that are supported by implants are great options to choose
- Maryland dental bridge (resin bonded bridge): Maryland bridge is the least invasive and use bonding techniques to be firm in its place. It is a great choice for younger people. This type of bridge is mainly used when too much dental work on abutment teeth is high risk as in children.
Pros and cons of dental bridge
- Restores your smile and improves your look
- Improves your speaking and chewing
- Increases your self-esteem and self-confidence. You will no longer hide your smile or cover your gaps with lips because of some lost teeth
- Bridges prevent other teeth to take the space of the missing area, which may cause later treatments like implant to get difficult
- Your healthy teeth next to the missing area should be prepared for bridge placement, which most people may find it difficult to accept
- Pressures and loads overtime may cause problems for abutment teeth (neighboring teeth) that are used as anchor for bridge retention
- Plaque and tartar can build up around your bridge, which requires regular oral hygiene attention and cleaning
- Needs regular visits if repairing or refitting is necessary or if bridges break
The procedure to place your dental bridge
You will need 2 appointments to have your bridge prepared and placed on your teeth. Early before starting your bridge making process, your mouth is checked for any signs of tooth decay, crooked teeth, gum and jaw conditions to give you a better and picture perfect treatment plan. If there is no need for other dental treatments, you will head on to get your bridges. Dental bridge procedure steps:
- Your dentist prepares the neighboring teeth(abutment teeth) to make enough space for your bridge (first appointment)
- Then your dentist takes the impression of the prepared teeth and the missing teeth area to get the molds (first appointment). Dentists can use computer assisted design/manufacturing (CAD,CAM) to design and make the dental bridges
- Impressions are sent to the lab and you will be wearing temporary bridges to prevent any damages to your teeth while your dental bridge is being prepared
- You will visit the dentist for the placement and cementing your bridge in place (second appointment)
- Your dentist may ask you to visit within the following weeks to check that your bridge is fit in place
Dental bridge lifespan
Dental bridge can last 5 to 10 years and if you care more and maintain a healthy lifestyle by following regular oral hygiene practices, you can still have your bridge up to 20 years.
Dental Bridge FAQs
How much does a bridge usually cost?
The cost of dental bridge can range from $1500 to $5000. But depending on the number of missing teeth, which requires more false teeth to be made and also the need for implants because of weak natural teeth for your bridge, prices can go up from $8000 to $14000.
How many teeth can be replaced with a bridge?
Dental bridges can support 1 to 4 teeth in a row in each span in your dental arch. But normally dentist use bridges for 1 to 2 teeth and dentist believe that replacing more than 2 teeth is a high risk. For avoiding waste of time and money and having a successful treatment, it would be better to have various treatments for more than 2 missing teeth including bridge and implant combinations or even getting dentures for larger spans.
Dental bridges VS implant: which one is best?
Dental bridge and implant are two treatments for filling the gaps of missing teeth in your mouth. You will sometimes be confused whether to choose implant or bridge to replace the empty space of your lost teeth. Dental implant is the best and most durable, natural-looking replacement for missing teeth. But there are some conditions that you may not be able to get implant and you have no option except for bridges.
- For young people because of immature jaws and growth changes
- People with low density jaw bone, which makes a dental implant a risk
- Having a low quality jaw bone
- As temporary correction for your smile until later that you are eligible for dental implant
- Personal interest. For people who do not want dental implant
How do I care for my dental bridge?
Do not ever skip cleaning and oral hygiene practices when you get dental bridges. You are more likely helping bacteria to grow on or around your bridge if you don’t take care for routine oral and dental cleanings. Do these useful caring tips for your bridge:
- Brush twice a day and floss between your teeth to get rid of food debris and prevent plaque and tartar from building up
- Use mouthwashes and mouthrinses for mouth cleaning and to prevent foods and drinks from staining your bridge and other teeth
- Have a balanced eating habit and avoid high-sugary foods and drinks
- Do not bite on harsh and rough foods and fruits, and cut them in pieces before eating in order to prevent damages to your bridge
- Use mouthguard when you play sports