Dental bridges are most beneficial to patients with one or more missing teeth in a row. If not restored, a missing tooth can lead to difficulty with biting, chewing, and talking. This tooth replacement option improves function and appearance so patients can feel confident again. Replacing the missing tooth will also help patients avoid movement of the adjacent teeth into the gap.
There are four types of dental bridges:
If there are natural teeth on either side of your missing tooth, your dentist will most likely recommend a traditional dental bridge. These are made up of one or more prosthetic teeth (or pontics) to fill in the gaps with abutments (or dental crowns) on either side.
After the dentist removes some of the enamel from the abutment teeth and takes impressions to ensure the bridge fits perfectly, the mold is sent to a dental lab where the custom bridge is created. Once it returns to the office, your dentist will place the bridge over your natural teeth and the pontic will be secured into its proper position.
Similarly to a traditional dental bridge, cantilever bridges need support, but only from one tooth. This is a great option for replacing a molar in the very back of the mouth. Cantilever bridges are also necessary when it is not aesthetically pleasing to have two crowns or if an adjacent tooth already supports another prosthetic tooth.
The downside of this option is that the bridge can sometimes act as a lever which can lead to a fractured tooth or loosened crown.
More conservative than other dental bridge options, the Maryland bridge bonds a small piece of metal or porcelain to the back of the two abutment teeth. The greatest benefit of this option is that the neighboring teeth don’t require any enamel to be removed.
However, the lack of strength a Maryland bridge offers is its biggest downfall. Because of this, the Maryland bridge isn’t a great option for replacing molars that are subjected to a lot of biting force. The metal or porcelain pieces can also negatively affect your bite or gums.
The most secure method of replacing multiple missing teeth in a row is an implant-supported bridge. Rather than being held in place by dental crowns, dental implants are placed into the jawbone and the bridges are attached. Dentists usually use one dental implant per missing tooth, but they can also place two implants and suspend a pontic between two implant-supported crowns.
The advantages of this treatment are that no other teeth are damaged, the jawbone tissue is regenerated, and the surgery has a high success rate. Dental implants replace the actual tooth root so your prosthetic teeth will feel more comfortable and secure than with any other type of dental bridge. If you choose to have an implant-supported bridge, you will probably never have to replace it.
Implant-supported bridges require two procedures—one to place the implant and another to secure the bridge. The entire process can take up to a year and even longer to experience complete healing.
An initial consultation is required to determine which dental bridge offers you the most benefits. Your dentist should explain the pros and cons of each option so you can make an informed decision.
To schedule an initial consultation with our Grant Park dentist, call 404-328-7177 today.