It is not uncommon to have one or more missing teeth. Based on studies performed by the American Dental Association (ADA), people between the ages of 20 and 64 have three or more missing, broken, or decayed teeth. As a result, such individuals may lack confidence in their smile or relationship with others. Dental bridges provide an ideal solution to replacing those missing teeth and restoring a perfect smile. The bridge implanted in the jaw feels natural and function optimally when speaking or chewing.
The dental bridge procedure involves using surrounding teeth on either side of the gap to keep the false teeth firmly in place. The artificial tooth, also known as a pontic, is either made of plastic or porcelain and is colour-matched to the natural teeth for a uniform appearance. A dental bridge, also known as a fixed partial denture by certain healthcare providers, may be removable or permanent, depending on the dentist’s recommendation and the patient’s preference.
What Is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a structure of one or more pontics that replace broken, missing or decayed teeth. A standard dentist or a prosthodontist (a dental specialist that replaces or restores missing teeth) uses one or two crowns, sometimes referred to as abutments, to secure the structure in the mouth. Individuals with cracked teeth resulting from injuries and accidents, as well as others who have decayed or missing teeth, may use a bridge to fill up the affected part.
If the dental problem is not severe, the dentist may attach and secure a crown – a false bit of tooth – to a small section of a nearby natural tooth. However, in the case of a missing or removed tooth, opting for dental bridges would be the most ideal procedure. A dentist may even recommend the use of permanent dental implants in place of dental bridges. This surgical procedure involves attaching the false teeth to the jawbone. The desire for a dental bridge may be motivated by the need to preserve the affected part for chewing or by aesthetic considerations.
Types of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges are of different types, which each one applied to specific purposes. There are four main types of dental bridges as discussed below:
Traditional Dental Bridge
Traditional bridges are the most common type of bridge used during a dental procedure. In fixing missing or removed teeth, the prosthodontist attaches the artificial teeth to the mouth using two crowns (abutments). The bridges are either detachable or permanent.
Cantilever Dental Bridge
Unlike the traditional dental bridge, which is supported by two crowns, a cantilever dental bridge is supported by just one crown. Patients do not have to worry about damaging their neighbouring teeth with this less invasive treatment. However, the implementation of this invasive procedure may increase the risk of tooth and jaw injury.
Maryland Dental Bridge
Maryland dental bridges fix to the mouth using porcelain or metal structures attached to the two abutment teeth on either side of the gap. Although this conventional, less-invasive procedure preserves surrounding healthy teeth, the bridge tends to be less secure.
Implant-Supported Dental Bridge
Compared to other dental bridges, an implant-supported dental bridge attaches to the jawbone using sturdy titanium frames. This procedure is ideal for individuals with more than one missing tooth or chipped tooth resulting from extreme grinding. The bridge goes along with dental bonding (tooth-coloured composite resin) to enhance aesthetics.
A prosthodontist can use one of the listed types of dental bridges to replace a damaged, decayed or missing tooth. In the case of traditional bridges, the dentist cleans the specific part on either side, wearing off the affected teeth in the process. By doing so, the presence of tooth decay is eliminated. Once done, the dentist takes a dental impression to create a matching bridge. During this period, the damaged teeth might be exposed, which may lead to infection. Hence, the dentist covers and protects them with a temporary bridge.
After a few weeks, the patient returns to the prosthodontist to get a real dental bridge, which is attached to the mouth using a strong bond. This similar procedure applies to the use of a cantilever bridge. The only difference is that the dentist uses one crown instead of two. Additionally, the professional does not have to put much into preparing the affected area. It is worth noting that there are at least two dental appointments for traditional dental bridges and cantilever dental bridges. Just as it rightly states, implant-supported dental bridges require implant surgeries before other dental procedures follow.
Likely outcomes from dental bridge implantation may include soreness, tenderness, and bleeding in the mouth, especially the gums. Patients who undergo such procedures can resume their usual activities after treatment, which is usually the following day. Soreness may disappear after some days. Nevertheless, the gums may take some weeks to heal. Importantly, individuals who are administered sedatives during treatment should not be behind the steering wheel within one to two days, but rather seek assistance if they are alone.
Post-treatment care is highly required. As such, it is essential to maintain good and consistent oral hygiene to protect the teeth and gum. Avoid specific food and drinks that may cause decay. Additionally, constant medical appointments are essential in maintaining healthy teeth.
Maintaining Dental Bridges
Dental bridges provide long-lasting dental solutions. However, it is essential to replace them every 5 to 15 years, depending on the level of maintenance. To ensure durability, patients should follow these tips:• Avoid chewing hard substances on the treated area to prevent any form of damage.• Brush, floss, and clean the natural teeth and dental bridge. Professional cleaning is required as well, which maybe twice a year.
The Bottom Line
Having missing, broken or damaged teeth may affect an individual’s lifestyle, which includes one’s facial features and smile. Likewise, eating may become difficult. But with dental bridges, these challenges become nonexistence. Even though the procedure comes with tons of benefits, there are also potential risks as well. For this reason, a patient must discuss viable options with a prosthodontist to identify the best approach before commencing treatment.