Are Dental Bridges a Good Tooth Replacement Option?
If you have missing teeth, your dentist has likely recommended a dental bridge. Dental bridges are one of the best replacements for missing teeth and can restore your smile’s functional and aesthetic integrity by “bridging the gap” created by tooth loss, tooth extraction, or multiple missing adjacent teeth.
Dentists anchor these bridges to existing teeth, crowns, or dental implants on either side of the missing tooth or teeth and are made of lifelike porcelain or a combination of metal and porcelain. Not only do dental bridges complete your smile, they restore lost oral function, keep your bite healthy, and stop your natural teeth from shifting out of place and wearing down unevenly.
Why do people get dental bridges?
Dental bridges are a great option for people who have a missing tooth or teeth. Common causes of missing teeth include tooth decay, gum disease, and mouth trauma or injury. In some cases, patients have missing teeth related to a congenital condition, but this is quite rare. To get a dental bridge to help with your missing teeth, it is critical that you have healthy teeth on either side of the missing ones.
Since your teeth are designed to work together, if one is missing, it can cause the others to shift into that empty space. This can lead to bite problems, challenges with chewing, pain on your teeth or jaw, and self-consciousness about your smile.
Benefits of dental bridges
As we alluded to earlier, dental bridges are a common restorative dentistry solution for patients who have missing teeth. In fact, dental bridges offer a wide variety of benefits. They:
- Replace your missing teeth.
- Restore the function of your teeth so you can chew and speak easily.
- Prevent shifting of your remaining teeth.
- Reduce the risk of bone loss so that the structure of your face can be maintained.
- Are permanently fixed in place and don’t move in your mouth like dentures.
As with anything, however, there are risks. The common risks of dental bridges include the following:
- A poorly fitted bridge can lead to decay of the tooth under the crown.
- You may experience a reduction of the structures of your natural healthy teeth as they work to accommodate the dental bridge appliance.
- Your restoration may weaken or collapse if your supporting teeth are not strong enough.
- The restorations are not permanent and will eventually need to be replaced.
Despite these risks, dental bridges are a great solution and can provide you with a smile that you can be proud of.
Types of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges come in four types. Each is a bit different and has unique indications for use.
1. Fixed dental bridges
Fixed bridges create a filler tooth that is held in place by crowns sitting on top of your healthy teeth on either side of the gap in your mouth. This bridge is the most common and is usually made out of porcelain fused to metal or ceramics. Dentists often recommend this bridge to replace missing teeth where there are healthy teeth on either side of the gap.
2. Cantilever bridges
Cantilever bridges are a popular choice amongst dentists when there are multiple missing teeth, as the new artificial teeth from the bridge can be attached using only one pontic (the artificial tooth in the fixed or removable partial dentures). This allows dentists to use cantilever bridges when there are multiple missing teeth.
3. Resin-bonded bridges
Also commonly referred to as the Maryland bridge, the resin-bonded bridge was created so that the trimming and crowning of intact adjacent teeth could be avoided, while still maintaining a fixed support for the pontics. Resin-bonded bridges are reversible, and if the bridge is removed, the natural teeth are left unaltered. This bridge uses thin metal wings that are applied against the tongue side of the adjacent teeth to support the replacement teeth.
4. Implant-supported dental bridges
This bridge is similar to the fixed bridge, however, it is held in place by implants instead of being cemented in place to your natural adjacent teeth. This option is more invasive, but it does provide long-lasting results and has other benefits, such as reducing bone loss in your jaw.
Alternatives to dental bridges
When you have an empty space between your teeth and leave that space untreated, your remaining teeth can begin to shift. This can lead to issues with your bite, uneven wear from chewing, and even problems with the TMJ (temporomandibular joint). Though your dentist is best positioned to guide you on options to treat an open space between your teeth, common alternatives to the dental bridge include implants or partial dentures.
A dental implant is a small post, usually constructed out of titanium, which acts as a substitute for the root of the tooth. Your dentist will use a connector, commonly referred to as an abutment, which connects to the replacement tooth. Then, a dental crown will be custom-made to match your natural teeth, and will be placed over the dental implant.
A partial denture is a removable, natural-looking dental device that can restore the form and function of your jaw by replacing one or a number of missing teeth. Your dentist can create partial dentures for you out of a combination of metal and acrylic, giving them strength to handle chewing and speaking. Some partial dentures are constructed entirely from acrylic but are less durable and structurally sound.
In need of a dental bridge?
If you have missing teeth and are thinking about a dental bridge, start by finding the right dentist. Bruce Sexton, DDS, in Wayland, Michigan, has the skills and experience to provide you with a successful dental experience and a dental bridge that will restore your smile. Request an appointment today.