Missing teeth adversely affect your smile, appearance, and general health. If you are thinking about tooth replacement, it is essential to know the treatment options. This information helps you choose the best course of action. This article will discuss everything you need about a dental bridge, including its benefits, types, procedure details, cost, complications, and post-operative care tips.
What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is a dental instrument to replace missing teeth. With the help of the neighboring teeth, it fills the gap with one or more artificial teeth. A bridge is attached to crowns that connect it to natural teeth. The crown may cover multiple teeth to anchor the bridge and maintain the artificial teeth in position. If there are no natural teeth, your dentist might advise implanting teeth on either side of the bridge to hold it in place. A dental bridge consists of the following:
Abutments: These are the teeth that serve as the bridge’s foundation. They might be dental implants or your natural teeth. Dentists use abutments to support bridges on either side of the spaces left by missing teeth.
Pontics: Pontics are dental prosthetics used to “bridge the gap” between abutments. You might have more than one pontic if you have several consecutive missing teeth.
Retainers: These are the parts of the bridge cemented to abutment teeth. They are primarily full crowns but can also be inlays/Onlays.
Who is the ideal candidate to get a dental bridge?
Unfortunately, not everyone is suitable for a dental bridge. To decide if you can get a bridge, your dentist will conduct an oral examination of the region where the bridge will be positioned. The dentist also examines anchor teeth to check if they are sturdy enough to support a dental prosthetic.
You are a candidate if you:
- Have missing permanent teeth.
- Are in good general health.
- Have healthy dental and bone structures.
- Can maintain good oral hygiene.
Benefits of dental bridges
Bridges make your face look better, help you speak and chew, and keep your smile pretty. A gap in your natural smile due to missing teeth may cause facial and jaw movement. A dental bridge replaces those missing teeth.
Help you reclaim your natural face.
Your teeth help to support the other facial bone structures structurally, as well as the skin and muscles that give your face its shape. When you have missing teeth, the supporting structures in your face may sag, resulting in wrinkles, sagging skin, and less defined bones, including the shape of your jaw.
Stop the repositioning of other teeth.
Your teeth may start to move to fill empty spaces in your mouth, resulting in gaps between your teeth or angled teeth, giving you a strange smile. This shift changes your speech patterns and eating habits. A dental bridge helps you stop the shifting.
Maintain proper bite alignment.
Your natural bite may change once the teeth-shifting starts. It can range from a slight shift to a more obvious overbite to severe bite changes related to pain-causing conditions like TMJ and difficulties eating.
Give you a full smile.
When teeth are missing, you might notice spaces in your smile. A bridge will widen your mouth and give you the confidence to smile.
Types of dental bridges
The first step is to know if you qualify for a dental bridge. The next step is to know which type is best for you. They come in different styles, each with unique benefits depending on the situation.
Traditional dental bridge
The traditional dental bridge is the most prevalent type and is also known as the conventional bridge. It consists of a fake tooth or teeth in the middle and one dental crown attached to the teeth on either side—the fake tooth “bridges” the space between the dental crowns, which serve as anchor points.
- Good strength.
- A dental lab technician carefully crafts the bridge to complement the rest of your smile perfectly
- Can be fitted more quickly than your implant-supported alternative.
- Cost less than bridges supported by implants.
- The teeth on one or both sides of the gap must be strong and healthy enough to support a crown.
- The dentist needs to remove some enamel from adjacent teeth to fit the crowns.
Cantilever dental bridge
Cantilever dental bridges use just one anchor tooth, unlike traditional ones. They are less common than other types of bridges and frequently only work in the front of the mouth. Due to the excessive strain they put on a single tooth, cantilever bridges are not ideal for the back of the mouth. People who only have teeth on one side of a missing tooth or gap are best suited for this type.
- Less intrusive and require only one additional tooth preparation.
- Appear more naturally and blend with the neighboring teeth.
- Cheaper because they need less installation work.
- Looks appealing because of its durability.
- Less risk of tooth decay.
- Must have healthy dental tissue and gums.
- They might fail. Cantilever bridges frequently persist for many years, but when not anchored to strong teeth, they are more likely to collapse.
- Compared to other bridges, they have a somewhat increased chance of cracking or debonding because they are only supported on one side.
A Maryland bonded bridge is built similarly to a conventional bridge, but a metal or porcelain framework is used instead of using teeth crowns as anchors. Instead of modifying neighboring teeth, this framework merely adheres to the back. Maryland dental bridges provide a more economical and conservative replacement for front teeth. However, the adhesive’s tensile strength determines how strong they are, and metal frameworks can stain teeth.
- Affordable replacement for missing front teeth.
- Quick and easy procedure compared to implant-based bridges.
- Requires very little preparation.
- Less risk because it is a non-invasive treatment.
- No enamel is removed during installation.
- The teeth nearby are not impacted.
- Only a few are qualified candidates to get them.
- Lack of power to take the place of the molars hence only suitable for replacing front teeth.
- Require a strict oral hygiene routine.
- May dislodge due to lower retention strength but recementation is possible.
Dental bridges supported by tooth implants have the same basic design as conventional bridges. As a result, implant-supported bridges can fill significant gaps caused by multiple missing teeth without the support of nearby teeth. Furthermore, dental implants are well known for their resilience and capacity to reestablish normal function. However, this dental bridge requires an extended placement procedure and recovery period.
- High stability since dental implants support it.
- It aids in the long-term restoration of the tooth.
- No harm is done to natural teeth.
- Prevents bone loss.
- It takes multiple appointments.
- It is more expensive than standard dental bridge operations.
- The treatment might not be appropriate under some medical circumstances.
- Risk of implant rejection and allergic reaction.
Fiber-reinforced composite (FRC) bridge
FRCs are resin-based materials that include fibers to increase physical qualities. The strength of the fiber bond is comparable to that of cobalt chrome material. A fiber-reinforced composite bridge is a valuable alternative to traditional treatment methods for replacing a missing permanent anterior tooth. This procedure doesn’t affect the enamel of the anchor teeth. These bridges can persist for many years, with a typical lifespan of 3-4.5 years.
- Can be made in one visit.
- Can be repaired.
- Difficulties maintaining proper dental hygiene.
- It may be unable to withstand a high masticatory load.
- Prolonged appointments.
The procedure of getting a dental bridge
Most dental bridges involve at least two appointments, which can take a while. A Maryland bridge requires fewer appointments than other types because there is no need to prepare abutment teeth. Whatever option you select, your dentist will need to take impressions of your teeth or a digital scan so that the lab can shape the components of the bridge.
Traditional or cantilever bridges
Preparing the abutment tooth or teeth is the first step in getting a traditional fixed or cantilever dental bridge. Your dentist will remove some of the enamel from the abutment teeth and use a temporary bridge to cover the teeth.
At the next appointment, your dentist will:
- Remove the temporary crowns.
- Assess the permanent crowns and bridge fit.
- Use cement to fix the bridge.
Occasionally, your dentist may use temporary cement to give you time to ensure the bridge fits comfortably before making it permanent.
For a Maryland bridge, your abutment teeth only require minor backside etching.
Your dentist will:
- Make the bridge.
- Use strong resin to attach the metal wings to the abutment teeth.
- Give the resin some time to cure.
Implant-supported bridges need a surgical procedure to place the dental implants in your jawbone and a prolonged recovery period.
The healing time for an implant-supported bridge varies greatly depending on the location of the implants in the mouth.
You might be fitted with a temporary bridge until your subsequent procedure when your dentist places the permanent bridge over the implants. The healing process takes longer than other types because this procedure necessitates small gum incisions.
Risks and complications
The following issues can arise when using a dental bridge:
The bridge might dislocate or fall apart. When it does, it might be necessary to get another bridge.
Some people find it challenging to get used to chewing with a bridge, particularly in the weeks after the procedure. If the bite doesn’t feel right, go back to the dentist so they can adjust it.
After getting a dental bridge, some patients experience infections, especially if they have severe tooth decay or gum disease.
Under the crown that secures the bridge, a tooth could develop decay. People with severe gum disease or teeth with deep cavities that need crowns are more likely to experience this. Home care practices like brushing and flossing are essential to stop tooth decay near a bridge. Some floss products are explicitly designed for use with bridges.
Working with a skilled dentist and following their aftercare recommendations can assist in lowering the risk of severe complications.
Your mouth might feel tender and sore after having the teeth ground down by a dentist. Additionally, after the bridge is placed, it might feel painful. Gums may bleed and swell.
The majority of people experience less pain after a few days. However, the gums might take a few weeks to recover from the procedure. When a person feels well enough, they can return to work or school. Avoid driving after being sedated during the bridge placement procedure.
Anyone with implants may feel uncomfortable when they wake up from anesthesia. They should also abstain from driving and may need help for a day or two after the procedure.
The success of a dental bridge depends on the foundation provided by the surrounding teeth, so it is imperative to preserve the health and strength of the remaining teeth. Daily brushing and flossing can prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which can cause tooth loss. You can learn the proper technique for brushing and flossing from your dentist or dental hygienist. Regular cleaning will help identify issues early when there is a better chance of success with treatment. Proper nutrition also requires a balanced diet.
You must be extra cautious about your eating after having your bridge installed. During that time, your dentist will provide you with detailed instructions to follow. Long-term damage from specific meals to dental bridges or abutment teeth is possible. You must avoid these meals if you want your bridge to last and protect it.
- Sticky/crunchy candies
- Hard candies or foods
- Sweet foods (can cause tooth decay)
How much does a dental bridge cost?
Below are the prices for a dental bridge at Stellar Dental:
- Fiber-reinforced bridge: RM900
- Maryland bridge: RM1,400
- Additional metal ‘wing’: RM100
- Additional ceramic ‘wing’: RM200
- Conventional bridge
- Metal: Starts at RM2400
- Porcelain fused to metal: Starts at RM4,200
- Ceramic: Starts at RM4,800
Bridge prices in the US typically range from $700 to $1,500 per tooth. Keep in mind that this cost applies to each artificial tooth replacement.
If you maintain good oral hygiene and schedule regular dental visits, your bridge should last for many years. Although several factors can affect a bridge’s longevity, it is common for them to last between 10 and 20 years.
What other options do you have besides a dental bridge?
Some people choose partial dentures, also known as removable artificial teeth. Unlike dental bridges, you can remove dentures for cleaning. Another option is to get dental implants for all missing teeth if you have the budget.
Read more about dental implants here.
A lack of teeth can limit your ability to eat, speak, and smile. A dental bridge can make your mouth look and feel better. Dental bridges can last many years and fill the gap left by lost teeth. Maintain a healthy oral routine and schedule cleanings with the dentist regularly.
Do you have some missing teeth and can’t decide which replacement option is suitable for you? Visit us at Stellar Dental. We use the least invasive techniques and conservative solutions to address your issues.
We have a team of experienced dentists and orthodontists who can examine your teeth and suggest the best treatment option. We can make a customized bridge if you qualify based on your preferences. Book an appointment here to learn more about your restorative choices and get the smile you’ve always wanted.