Graphic of a man curious about what a dental bridge is.

What Is A Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge, also known as a tooth bridge, is a false tooth – or teeth, depending on what needs replacing. The false tooth – sometimes referred to as a pontic – is held in place by the abutting teeth on both sides of the replacement gap. Pontics can be made from different materials like gold. However, they are typically made from porcelain due to their ability to naturally blend in with your existing teeth.

Dental bridges serve as an alternative to partial dentures. They are more practical than partial dentures as they enable you to eat and speak better. Bridges also better aesthetically match teeth’ natural appearance.

Why Would You Need A Dental Bridge?

There are a handful of reasons why someone would need a dental bridge.

  • Improve speech and pronunciation skills;
  • Correct proper chewing technique;
  • Re-adjust force distribution when chewing;
  • Restore a patient’s smile;
  • Sustain facial shape;
  • Prevent misalignment of remaining teeth.

If any of these conditions sound like you, schedule a consultation with your dentist to see if a dental bridge is right for you.

Disadvantages Of Dental Bridges

Dental bridges certainly solve numerous oral issues that missing teeth can cause. But there are a handful of drawbacks that patients should be aware of if they opt for a dental bridge. Several of them involve the bridge abutment teeth.

Bacteria and plaque can infiltrate a poorly situated crown. That can result in tooth decay.

Crowns can affect a patient’s bite by changing the tooth structure.

The bridge will be compromised if the abutments ever become damaged.

Weal abutment teeth won’t be able to support the bridge. The bridge can collapse as a result.

Future dental procedures could weaken the abutment teeth. As a result, they would need to be replaced with dental implants.

Graphic of how a bridge works

What Are The Different Types Of Dental Bridges?

There are four (4) types of dental bridges.

Traditional Bridge

This dental bridge type includes a false tooth or, in some cases, multiple teeth and two dental crowns. The crowns are cemented to the abutment teeth – one tooth on each side of the replacement gap. The dental crowns, once secured to the abutment teeth, hold the bridge in place.

A traditional dental bridge is the most popular bridge type. To qualify for a conventional bridge, the patient must have natural teeth on both sides of the gap to serve as the anchor teeth. Traditional bridges are made of either ceramics or porcelain fused to metal.

Cantilever Bridge

The cantilever bridge is remarkably similar to a traditional bridge. A dental crown holds the bridge in place. The only difference is that the patient only needs one natural tooth that abuts the replacement gap. A single crown is cemented to that tooth. The bridge is connected to only that crown as opposed to a crown on both sides.

Cantilever bridges are not commonly used much. They are also not recommended for the back of the mouth as they can damage other teeth due to excess force.

Maryland Bridge

A Maryland bridge, also referred to as a resin-bonded bridge, relies on natural teeth, one on each side of the gap, similarly to a traditional bridge. But unlike a traditional bridge, a Maryland bridge doesn’t use dental crowns to connect to the abutment teeth. Instead, a framework made of metal, porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal is bonded to the backs of the abutment teeth.

Implant-Supported Bridge

The method of bride securement for this type is in its name. Dental implants secure the bridge instead of dental crowns or framework bonding. One dental implant is surgically placed for each tooth that the bridge will replace. The dental implants hold the bridge in place.

An implant-supported dental bridge is considered the most robust and most secure type. Installing this bridge type typically requires two surgical procedures. The first one is to imbed the dental implants into the jawbone. The bridge is placed during the second procedure.

How Much Does A Tooth Bridge Cost?

How much does a bridge cost is a common question for patients as the price will, in some cases, play a role in determining the bridge type a patient opts for. A dental bridge price will vary depending on several factors, including the bridge type.

  • Number of missing teeth;
  • The material used to make the bridge;
  • Difficulty placing the bridge due to location in the mouth;
  • Necessary dental treatments before bridge placement;
  • Cost due to geographic location.

Now examine costs directly associated with bridge types.

Traditional And Cantilever Bridges

Both types range from $2,000 to $5,000. That includes one (1) pontic and a crown for each abutment tooth.

Maryland Bridges

The average cost is $1,500 to $2,500. That includes one (1) pontic and the accompanying framework attached to the abutment teeth.

Implant-Supported Bridges

The most expensive of the four (4) bridges run from $5,000 to $15,000. That assumes a bridge with only two dental implants that spans three (3) or four (4) teeth.

The life span for dental bridges ranges from 5-15 years, or even longer.

Dental Bridge Procedure

The process of getting a dental bridge is at least two (2) visits to your dentist’s office. Aside from the initial consultation visit with your dentist, the first bridge installment procedure involves preparing the abutment teeth. The teeth need to be recontoured through an enamel removal process. Next, a portion of the enamel on each abutment tooth needs to be removed to allow crown placement.

Your dentist will then take teeth impressions. These impressions are used as a model to make the bridge, the pontic, and the crowns in a dental lab. The dentist will also make a temporary bridge. This temporary bridge serves as a substitute to protect your exposed teeth and gums until the actual bridge is completed in the lab.

The temporary bridge is removed during your second appointment. Then, the actual bridge will be checked for proper fit. An adjustment might be necessary to ensure a correct fit. That could entail additional visits. Each patient’s mouth is unique, so the exact number of visits to professionally install the bridge can vary.

A dental bridge is not permanent. The standard life span for dental bridges ranges from five to 15 years and possibly longer. Maintaining good oral hygiene combined with regular dental checkups results in fixed bridges lasting ten (10) years.

How Do I Take Care Of My Dental Bridge?

You can take a series of steps to generate the maximum life span from your dental bridge. Follow these tips, along with any advice your dentist offers, to ensure that your dental bridge lasts a solid decade or more.

Optimum Oral Hygiene: Brushing, flossing, and regular teeth cleanings are essential to keep your natural teeth healthy. Show your dental bridge the same care and dedication. That means brushing and flossing your bridge at least twice daily. Do so after each meal, too, if possible.

Brushing sessions should last for two minutes. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride. Rinse with an antiseptic mouth wash. Your dentist can show you how to brush and floss around your bridge correctly.

Foods To Avoid: You’ll want to be careful with your dietary choices once your permanent bridge has been placed. Certain foods have the potential to create issues with the bridge or the abutment teeth.

Chewy or sticky candy varieties, like caramel, can cause the dental crowns to detach from the abutment teeth. Foods high in sugar can cause tooth decay under a poorly sealed crown. Hard foods – nuts, candies, popcorn (because of the kernels), and ice chips – can damage the bridge. Also, refrain from using any tobacco products—that benefit your overall health, not just your dental bridge.

Discuss what you can and cannot eat with your dentist once your bridge is permanently placed. The initial days following bridge installation are critical to avoid those types of foods.

Dental Bridge Before And After

Dental bridges do not last forever. They suffer wear and tear like most objects. And, your bridge-generated smile can diminish over time, just like natural teeth do. So, talk to your dentist if you think you possibly need a bridge replacement.

How Do I Choose A Dentist For A Dental Bridge?

When considering the various typs of dental implants, start by consulting your dentist. A good dentist will first determine if you are a candidate for a dental bridge. Some of those factors are listed as follows:

  • One or more permanent teeth are missing;
  • Healthy teeth and strong bones that can support a bridge;
  • Having good oral health;
  • Overall good health;
  • Practicing proper hygiene to maintain the dental bridge condition.

If you meet these criteria and your dentist evaluates you as a quality bridge candidate, he can perform the work. Or, he can refer you to a dental colleague who specializes in bridges.

Get The Best Dental Bridges Near You

Consult your dentist to discuss whether you need a dental bridge. If so, what bridge type is right for your mouth? Or if you're asking where to find a trusted dentist near me check out The Smile Generation to Find a Dentist Tool for your dental bridge needs. You can read patient reviews, peruse staff bios, and schedule an appointment online with a click of your mouse.

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