Having damaged teeth can affect your confidence greatly. You can always choose to ignore the damage and let it progress but you could face gum infections later on. However, there’s always a better alternative – take action by getting a dental bridge. Dental bridges are popular dental solutions because they are highly functional and cosmetic at the same time. Before you get dental bridges, you should read about these important points.
Dental bridge types
If you’re missing one or more teeth, you may notice a difference in chewing and speaking. Bridges can help restore your smile.
Sometimes called a fixed partial denture, a bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth and literally “bridges” the gap where one or more teeth used to be. Bridges can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials and are attached to surrounding teeth for support. Unlike a removable bridge, which you can take out and clean, a fixed bridge can only be removed by a dentist. An implant bridge attaches artificial teeth directly to the jaw or under the gum tissue. Depending on which type of bridge your dentist recommends, its success depends on the foundation. So it’s very important to keep your remaining teeth healthy and strong.
There are four main types of dental bridges:
- Traditional dental bridges are made of false tooth (or teeth) held in place by crowns attached to the abutment teeth. The most popular type of dental bridge is a traditional bridge that is often used when the patient has natural teeth on both sides of the gap.
- Cantilever dental bridge is the same as traditional bridge; however the pontic in a cantilever bridge is held in place by a dental crown cemented on one abutment tooth. A cantilever bridge only needs one natural tooth next to the missing tooth.
- Maryland dental bridge is like a traditional dental bridge but contains two abutment teeth – one both sides of the gap. However, unlike traditional bridge that uses crowns on the abutment teeth, Maryland bridge uses a framework made of metal or porcelain bonded to the backs of the abutment teeth. Similar to traditional bridge, Maryland bridge needs to have a natural tooth on each side of the gap.
- Implant-supported is different as it uses dental implants, and not crows or frameworks for support. This type of bridge has the implant surgically placed on the missing tooth which holds the bridge in position. Normally, one implant is placed for each missing tooth, but if that is not possible a bridge may have a pontic suspended between implant-supported crowns.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
Whether you opt for a traditional bridge or an implant-supported one, bridges can greatly enhance your appearance by replacing missing teeth as well as by preventing sagging of the soft tissues around the mouth. Bridges can improve your ability to eat, especially if several teeth were missing. Any speech issues due to missing teeth can also be corrected. Patients with implant-supported bridges gain additional benefits because dental implants actually prevent jawbone loss by simulating tooth roots. Without a natural root or implant in place, the jawbone starts to deteriorate over time, which can lead to multiple problems. Implant-supported bridges are the preferred restoration as they are more stable and secure than traditional bridges, but they do require an investment of time and money.
For the right candidates, both traditional and implant-supported bridges provide unique benefits. In general, patients who are missing one to three consecutive teeth may be candidates for either type of dental bridge. If you have periodontal disease, it should be treated before moving ahead with any restorative procedure. Because a traditional bridge is anchored to surrounding teeth, those teeth must be structurally sound in addition to being free from dental decay.
Only patients who are good candidates for dental implants can receive implant-supported dental bridges. The primary requirement for getting dental implants is having adequate bone density at the implant site. Dental implant candidates also need to be free from periodontal disease, have good oral and overall health, and not smoke. A patient without sufficient bone density may be a candidate for a bone graft or a sinus lift to build up the bone in the implant area.
How Are Bridges Secured?
There are essentially two main types of dental bridge:
This is where crowns are used to secure the bridge. This means that we will need to gently grind down a tooth/some teeth to secure the bridge.
The two adjacent teeth are prepared for crowns. A three-unit dental bridge is made, and it is bonded onto the two adjacent teeth. These types are crowns are great because the success rates are higher, however they will require some tooth preparation. If the adjacent teeth have crowns already, this option may be good for you. The bridges rely on the conical tapered connection to secure them, so the type of cement used does not have to be that strong. They are still cemented in, however it’s the morse taper effect that provides good retention.
In the last ten years, technology has advanced, and the strength of dental cement has got considerable stronger. This has allowed us to bond onto teeth without having to prepare them, hence preserving tooth structure. These types are bridges are called adhesive bridges and are a lot more conservative. If you look at the picture below, the bridge has wings on either side of the false tooth and these are bonded onto the back surfaces of the adjacent teeth. The major advantage is that they require little or no tooth preparation and therefore are kind to the teeth. However, these can only be used in specific circumstances and generally do not work well for back teeth. They rely on having good strong teeth to bond to, so if your adjacent teeth are heavily filled then it may not work. What’s more is the success rates are significantly lower than for conventional bridges.
What Is The Procedure For Getting A Dental Bridge?
- Step 1 – dentist will assess your situation, take x-rays and then discuss the various options with you. dentist will inform you of the pros and cons of each option. You can then decide which one is best for you.
- Step 2 – dentist can then prepare the teeth (if necessary) before taking a scan.
- Step 3 – The final step involves checking the dental bridge to ensure the fit, aesthetics and bite are exactly as they should be. Once cemented, dentist would inform you of any maintenance that may be required.
How Do You Clean A Fixed Dental Bridge?
If the bridge is joined to both teeth either side, you will not be able to floss between them in the normal way. The best thing in this situation is to clean underneath the bridge by using either tepe brushes (interproximal brushes) or superfloss.
If the bridge is secured on one end only then you will be able to use floss and follow it underneath the bridge to clean all areas.
In either case it is recommended to see a hygienist frequently to maintain your bridges and ensure longevity.
Risks of Dental Bridges
Bridges can be challenging to keep clean, since you need to clean under the bridge as well as between the teeth on either side. In addition, with traditional bridges, the natural surrounding teeth have to be reduced somewhat to prepare them for dental crowns, which can weaken them. There is also an increased risk for decay or damage to pulp and nerves in the crowned teeth. Traditional bridges eventually need to be repaired or replaced.
Implant-supported bridges require surgery for placement of the implants, and any surgery carries some risk. That said, problems with implants are rare when they are done properly. When issues do occur, they can usually be treated easily.
Dental bridge cost
Cost of dental bridge will depend on various factors and what usually affects the cost are the type of bridge chosen, the materials needed, or any dental work needed prior to installing this dental appliance. In terms of materials, the cost of an all-porcelain bridge is higher than metal or porcelain-fused bridge.
How Many Teeth Can You Have On A Bridge?
This is a really difficult question to answer as there is a myriad of situations that can occur. It depends upon your age, build, bite and the state of the neighbouring teeth, as well as lots of other factors that are too detailed to mention here. For adhesive bridges, you generally only want to have one false tooth for predictable success rates. For conventional bridges, bigger spans are possible – one of dentists has created six units of bridgework, secured onto two teeth. If you would like more information on what can be done, it’s best to give dentist a call to discuss.
Which Teeth Can You Replace With A Bridge?
You can replace pretty much any teeth with a bridge. Front teeth are generally easier to replace using this method.
How Long Do Bridges On Teeth Last?
If constructed well, dental bridges can last 30 years or so in the right circumstances. The survival rates depend on each situation so it’s hard to give a definitive answer – dentists can give you a more accurate idea after an assessment. If poorly planned, some bridges will last less than a year.
Is a dental bridge permanent?
Fixed bridges are secured to the teeth with a special dental cement which means they cannot be removed. There is also an option for a removable bridge where it can be attached on an implant-supported prosthetic. Removable bridges are often used when the gap is too large or when there are no teeth to support a fixed bridge.
How soon after extraction can I get a bridge?
Extraction depends on the condition of the individual, its surrounding teeth, and the overall health of the patient. A bridge can be fitted right after extraction, but usually dentists recommend for the gums and the jawbone around the extraction site swell down and to heal completely which is about 8 to 12 weeks.
Does food get stuck under the dental bridge?
Bridges are made to fit against the gum line, but sometimes there can be an open space around between the gum and bridge which the food particles can get trapped under. Because of the trapped food particles, the patient will often experience bad breath and if not treated immediately, it can result in gum disease. Practicing good oral hygiene can help prevent this from happening.
Can a tooth get infected under a bridge?
Yes, a tooth can get infected under a fixed bridge. This usually occurs when the patient lacks proper oral hygiene that the foods get trapped under the bridge that will harbor bacteria which will later cause plaque buildup. Plaque if not treated can lead to tartar which causes gingivitis or periodontal disease. To prevent infection under the bridge, brush and floss your teeth regularly and schedule a routine visit to your dentist for exams and deep cleaning.
Can you bridge your front teeth?
Yes. It is possible to bridge your front teeth as there is not much pressure needed compared to installing a bridge at the back teeth. Traditional cantilever or Maryland bonded bridge is used for this purpose.
Does getting a bridge hurt?
No. Bridges are not painful as your dentist will administer a local anesthetic before the anchor teeth are prepared and the bridge is placed over it.