A Guide to Dental Bridges

dental bridges

Did you know the average adult will be missing 30% of their teeth, or about ten altogether, by the time they reach 50 years old? Unfortunately, missing teeth can have an enormous impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Thankfully, there are now several ways to replace your missing teeth and restore your smile.

One such way is with a dental bridge. Continue reading this informative guide to learn more about dental bridges and how to tell if they are the right tooth replacement solution for you.

What Is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a non-surgical dental procedure where a permanent, non-removable dental prosthesis is used to replace one or more missing teeth. It is made by bonding a false tooth (or teeth) with specialized dental equipment to your natural teeth or a series of crowns. The positive news is that with proper care, it can last as long as several decades. 

There are two parts of a bridge; the abutment and the pontic. The abutment refers to the anchor or support tooth, and the pontic is the “fake” tooth.

Who Is a Good Candidate For a Bridge?

If you are missing many teeth, a bridge may not be the best option for you.

This is because the false teeth of a bridge needs to be anchored by your other teeth, usually on either side. Therefore, when you have many missing teeth, there may not be any nearby teeth to use as support teeth for your bridge. 

Yet, a bridge is still possible in this case. Those with multiple areas of missing teeth can benefit from having an implant-supported bridge. The concept of the bridge stays the same, except instead of being supported by your teeth, one or more dental implants support the bridge. 

Types of Dental Bridges

There are several types of bridges to accommodate every mouth’s unique needs, ranging from multiple missing teeth and dental decay to a single missing tooth with cosmetic concerns. Your dentist will use your x-rays and oral pictures to get a complete overview of your mouth. Then they will discuss your dental solutions with you, and together you’ll decide which option is the best for you.

Here are the three types of bridges and their typical uses.

Traditional Bridge

A traditional bridge is the most common type of bridge, and it’s probably the one your mind conjures when you imagine how a bridge looks.

These dental bridges use two ends to hold up a middle, sort of like a bridge you drive your car over. The standard formation of this bridge is abutment (support)-pontic (replacement)-abutment (support); however, a traditional bridge can replace more than one tooth at a time. In this case, you may need more support teeth on either side.

A traditional bridge uses crowns as the support teeth. This works well for patients whose doctor has already planned the support teeth for other dental work, like fillings or crowns. 

Cantilever Bridge

The definition of a cantilever is something that is supported at one end, and a cantilever bridge is precisely that.

It is similar to a traditional bridge in that it uses a crown as support for the replacement tooth. However, the critical difference is that the replacement tooth is only anchored on one side instead of two.

A cantilever may use one or more support crowns. Your doctor determines the number of support teeth by the location in your mouth and their health.

For example, if the adjacent tooth had a root canal and your dentist wants to limit the stress put on it, they may decide that an additional support tooth is needed. In this case, the arrangement might be abutment-abutment-pontic.

A cantilever bridge is a good option for those with one missing tooth, where the adjacent teeth are healthy and not recommended for significant treatment. However, one downside to a cantilever is that it acts almost as a see-saw, where the replacement tooth is always levering up the anchor tooth anytime you chew or bite on that side. Over time, this can injure or weaken that tooth and eventually cause its loss.

Maryland Bridge

A maryland bridge is similar to a cantilever bridge because it is also supported from one side. However, this type of bridge does not use a crown as support. Instead, it’s supported by bonding the replacement tooth to your natural tooth without interfering with it at all. 

As a result, these bridges are less stable, so it’s best used to replace a single tooth in an area that takes little to no stress from biting or chewing. This makes a maryland bridge an excellent solution for someone who has otherwise healthy teeth and desires a replacement tooth for cosmetic reasons.

Taking Care of Your New Bridge

To extend the longevity of your bridge, you should practice excellent oral hygiene. This means brushing your teeth and flossing twice daily at a minimum. Your dentist may also recommend dental picks to clean under and around the bridge. 

When flossing or using the picks, it’s essential that you get the technique right. When you have a bridge, you shouldn’t tug upwards around the crowns or bridge because this will loosen the bridge and cause it to come out or damage the natural teeth underneath. 

You should also avoid sticky or tacky foods, such as gum or candy, because they can also dislodge your dental work overtime.

Avoid Tooth Loss With Preventative Dental Care

Once a tooth is missing, dental bridges are one way to replace it. However, you can avoid this scenario by maintaining excellent oral health. Like all health goals, you will need professional help to achieve this. 

Remember, regular visits to your dentist will help keep disease and decay at bay; that’s why it’s called preventative care.

At Newbury Dental Group, conveniently located near Thousand Oaks, CA, our goal is to restore the form and function of your smile. Together we will work to accomplish your oral health goals. 

Contact us with any questions or to schedule a free consultation.

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