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A dental bridge is a type of dental restoration used to replace missing teeth. It fills the gap with one or more false teeth, using the surrounding teeth as support.
Also known as fixed partial dentures, dental bridges have two main parts:
Abutment teeth themselves are usually fitted with crowns. Crowns on abutment teeth are often referred to as retainers. They’re attached to the pontic with connectors.
Your teeth share the pressure of biting and chewing and exert pressure on each other. If you have missing teeth, the teeth surrounding the gap can move over time, drifting out of place and even rotating.
Moving teeth can cause pain, difficulty chewing, bite problems, and an altered appearance. Dental bridges are intended to prevent these issues by filling in the gaps created by losing the original teeth.
According to Dr. Nandita Lilly, one of NewMouth’s in-house dentists, “a missing tooth is a serious matter. If the tooth is not replaced, other teeth can drift out of position, change the bite, and possibly lead to tooth decay and gum disease.”
Dental implants can also replace missing teeth, but not everyone is a candidate for implants. Your dentist may recommend a bridge if you:
Depending on your specific needs and preferences, your dentist can help you determine whether or not you should get a bridge. If you are a candidate for a bridge, your dentist can also help you decide what kind of bridge is best for you.
Your teeth work together as one unit. If you are missing a tooth, another tooth may move into the opening. This can cause jaw issues and pain.
When teeth move around in an attempt to fill the space, you may experience:
There are four different kinds of dental bridges. They’re mainly distinguished by how they’re attached.
Conventional or traditional fixed bridges require crowns (retainers) to attach to the abutment teeth. The connectors to both retainers can be rigid (fixed-fixed), or one of them can allow some movement (fixed-movable).
Depending on your specific situation, your dentist may opt for one or the other. Fixed-fixed bridges require the abutment teeth to be parallel to each other, while fixed-movable ones allow for more deviation.
Conventional bridges can also have a cantilever design, though this is less common than it used to be. These bridges have just one abutment tooth for support rather than two.
Cantilever bridges are ideal for someone with teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or gap.
An adhesive or resin-bonded bridge, also called a Maryland bridge, doesn’t require crowns on the abutment teeth. Instead, it features wings on either side of the pontic that are attached to your abutment teeth by an adhesive.
Maryland bridges are more likely to be used for front teeth. They require less preparation, but for the same reason, they may not be as secure as conventional bridges.
On the other hand, the less complex nature of an adhesive means a less invasive procedure.
This type of bridge is similar to the conventional fixed bridge. The difference is that rather than retainer crowns being placed over your natural teeth, they’re placed over dental implants.
Dental bridges offer some clear benefits, but they aren’t without risks.
The benefits of dental bridges include:
The drawbacks and potential complications of dental bridges include:
Many factors can affect the cost of a dental bridge:
The cost of your dental bridge also depends on the type of bridge you choose:
Although they are permanent or fixed, bridges don’t last forever. They aren’t meant to be easily removable, but they will experience wear and tear over time, leading them to need replacement over one’s lifetime.
To ensure that your bridge remains in good shape for as long as possible, you’ll need to:
If a bridge isn’t right for you, there are other dental restoration options available:
Like bridges, these options each have their advantages and disadvantages. Your dentist can provide information about specific options suitable for your unique situation.
Dental bridges are a type of fixed dental restoration for missing teeth. They consist of one or more pontics (false teeth) supported by abutments on one or both sides.
There are different ways that bridges can be attached, as well as other kinds of restorations. Some may suit your needs and preferences more than others. Talk to your dentist about your options.
If you are missing teeth, it may be hard to speak clearly. Implementing a dental bridge may help improve your speech.
Most people find that eating with a dental bridge is easier than eating with missing teeth. Some people prefer to consume softer foods while getting used to their new bridge.
Most dental bridges can last 5 to 7 years. However, some dental bridges can last more than 10 years with proper care.
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