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Updated on December 29, 2022
6 min read

Maryland Bridges

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What is a Maryland Dental Bridge?

A Maryland dental bridge is a type of permanent dental bridge that can replace a missing tooth. It got its name from the University of Maryland.

The concept is similar to that of a typical dental bridge. The dentist will attach the prosthetic tooth to the teeth on either side of the gap to create a seamless smile.

However, there is one key difference between traditional and Maryland dental bridges. Maryland bridges are bonded differently and don't require any enamel removal.

What Happens During a Maryland Bridge Procedure? 

The implant procedure to place a Maryland bridge is simple. It is a generally quick and non-invasive procedure that shouldn’t require too many trips to the dentist.

During the procedure, your dentist will:

  1. Make a mold so that a dental laboratory can make your customized bridge 
  2. Lightly etch the back of your adjacent teeth to help improve the bonding surfaces
  3. Apply a bonding resin to the back of each adjacent tooth
  4. Place the bridge’s metal wings to the bonding resin on the back of each tooth, fitting the new tooth in the gap
  5. Cure the resin to secure the dental bridge in place

Maryland Bridges vs. Traditional Dental Bridges

A traditional dental bridge requires the dentist to shave down some of the enamel on the adjacent teeth. A Maryland dental bridge does not.

Your dentist must remove some healthy tooth enamel to place a typical dental bridge. This permanently affects the intact teeth to which it attaches.

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A Maryland dental bridge has thin metal “wings” that attach to the back of your teeth. Your dentist will bond that metal framework from the false tooth to the supporting teeth with a composite resin.

Typical dental bridges are common. A Maryland bridge is not a tooth replacement option for everyone. They are best if you have good oral hygiene and healthy existing teeth.

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A dentist may only recommend a Maryland bridge for someone who meets these criteria and needs one or two missing front teeth replaced.

Pros and Cons of Maryland Bridges

Like all dental procedures, there are pros and cons to Maryland bridges. You should consider these before undergoing the procedure:

Pros 

  • Non-invasive and generally low-risk
  • Can be done quickly with minimal preparation
  • Offer instant results
  • Cost-effective compared to other dental procedures
  • Don’t require the dentist to remove healthy tooth enamel
  • Don’t permanently alter healthy, adjacent teeth
  • Give you a seamless smile
  • Hygienic and allow you to brush and floss 
  • Generally lasts a long time

Cons

  • May not be feasible for all teeth (such as molars in the back of the mouth)
  • May need to be rebonded every five to eight years
  • Bonding on Maryland bridge wings may cause adjacent teeth to darken (teeth whitening may be an option to combat this)
  • Can cause tooth decay if not cleaned properly
  • May not perfectly match your natural teeth
  • You are only a good candidate with good oral hygiene and no tooth decay
  • Not suitable if you are missing more than two teeth

Dental Bridge Recovery 

Here’s what you can expect after a Maryland bridge procedure:

Downtime

There isn’t any downtime following a Maryland dental bridge placement, and you should not experience any pain. Once you leave your appointment to have your dental bridge put in place, you should be able to eat, chew, and speak normally.

However, you may experience the following a few hours after the procedure:

  • Discomfort
  • Mild gum swelling
  • Mild sensitivity 

Aftercare

Maryland bridges can last anywhere between 10 to 20 years. They can last longer with proper aftercare. Aftercare tips for Maryland bridges include:

  • Brush your teeth daily
  • Rinse with mouthwash to keep your mouth clean
  • Floss daily to minimize tooth decay
  • Avoid hard and cold foods that can trigger your sensitivity

Maryland Bridges Alternatives

If you're not a good candidate for Maryland bridges, here are some alternatives you can consider:

Other Types of Dental Bridges

A Maryland bridge is just one of four types of dental bridges. The others include:

  • Conventional or traditional fixed bridges, which require crowns (retainers) to attach to the abutment teeth
  • Cantilever bridges, which have just one abutment tooth for support rather than two
  • Implant-supported bridges, which are placed over dental implants

Dentures

Dentures are removable false teeth that replace missing teeth. You can choose from several different styles of dentures. Some are made with acrylic resin, while others use porcelain.

Newer denture designs can be attached directly to the base, eliminating the need for a metal frame. Talk to your dentist about what type of dentures best suit your needs.

Dental Implants

Implants are small titanium posts surgically inserted into the jawbone to hold artificial teeth in place. They look and feel like natural teeth.

This alternative is usually more expensive and requires multiple dentist visits. However, it's considered the most permanent option available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Maryland dental bridges.

How much does a Maryland bridge cost? 

The cost of a Maryland dental bridge will vary depending on several factors like your dental insurance, oral health, the missing tooth (or teeth), the materials used in the Maryland bridge structure, and more.

Generally, a Maryland bridge will cost about $1,000 to $2,300. Insurance may cover some of the cost.

How long does a Maryland bridge last?

Maryland bridges can last a few years, though you may need to rebond the wings every so often. Typically, the wings on a Maryland bridge will need to be rebonded every five to eight years.

Does a Maryland bridge damage your teeth? 

A Maryland bridge should not damage your teeth because the dentist does not need to remove any enamel from your adjacent teeth. Maryland bridges are better for your teeth than many other dental alternatives.

Do Maryland bridges fail often?

Maryland bridges do not typically fail. However, a Maryland bridge may not work for all teeth, such as molars in the back of the mouth.

They may not work if you are missing several teeth in a row. This is because the wings will not have anything to bond to, and they won’t be stable enough to support several teeth. Other treatment options are available in these cases, like partial dentures and dental crowns.

If a Maryland bridge is an option for you, the bridge should last you for at least several years. Some bridges can last up to 15 years, but they will last at least a few years with proper care.

What is the difference between cantilever bridges and Maryland bridges?

Cantilever bridges require the reshaping of a single abutment tooth (supporting tooth). A Maryland bridge has thin metal “wings” that attach to the back of your teeth.

Last updated on December 29, 2022
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on December 29, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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