Many adults are missing one or more teeth. While it may not seem like it is too big of a deal, it can be! Missing teeth can have an impact on many different levels – even reducing overall quality of life.
Thankfully, there are many solutions to replace lost teeth. And, if they are in a row, a dental bridge may be the answer.
What is a Dental Bridge – And Why Do You Need One?
A dental bridge is a dental restorative solution that helps fill in spaces where there are missing teeth. Dental bridges can work well for one missing tooth or for a row of missing teeth. The bridge is anchored on at least one tooth at either end and has a false, or pontic, tooth (or teeth) between the supports.
A dental bridge will function much like having teeth – it remains fixed in position full-time and provides replacement tooth surfaces that are used for biting and chewing. It will also serve to improve one’s smile and overall appearance.
It is a common misconception that not replacing a missing tooth is not a big deal. It is. The teeth that surround your now empty space were reliant on the tooth that is no longer present for support. Without it, they tend to shift and change position, causing teeth to become crooked and creating gaps where they didn’t exist before. And that’s not all; long-term, missing teeth can also lead to:
- Misaligned bite
- Exacerbated TMJ symptoms
- Deteriorating bone structure
- Increased risk of gum disease
- Increased risk of tooth decay
- Further tooth loss
Most dental professionals will advise you to replace a missing tooth as soon as possible to prevent any of the above issues from taking place. One way you can do this is with a dental bridge.
Benefits of a Dental Bridge
Choosing to replace a missing tooth can be one of the best decisions you make for your oral health as it comes with many benefits, including:
- An enhanced smile
- Better oral health
- Boost in confidence
- Support for surrounding teeth
- Improved ability to chew
- Greater ease of speaking
- Maintain facial structure (no more sunken features)
And, since they will last for several years – or more with excellent home care and regular visits to your dentist – the benefits will keep on coming.
Different Types of Dental Bridges
Choosing the right type of dental bridge is important. And you have a few to choose from.
- Traditional Dental Bridge. As its name suggests, the traditional bridge is one of the oldest and most commonly used types of dental bridges. It is designed to have the bridge of pontics (replacement teeth) held in place using two crowns, one on either side of the space, cemented to the healthy adjacent teeth.
- Cantilever Bridge. The cantilever bridge is very similar to the traditional option, but rather than having a support on each end, this option only has one. As a result, it may put excess pressure on the supporting tooth, however, if there is only one adjacent tooth, this may be a possible option. Your dentist will make sure that this option is both safe and appropriate for your circumstances before recommending it as a potential solution.
- Implant-Supported Bridge. Dental implants are growing in popularity – and for good reason. They can be used in circumstances where many teeth are missing in a row, and the gap would be too large for reliable placement of a traditional bridge. They consist of a post that is surgically implanted into the jaw bone and becomes fused – which is what gives it stability. A bridge using dental implants no longer requires the use of healthy teeth. Instead, it uses the implants for support.
- Maryland Bridge. This type of bridge consists of a replacement tooth attached to a support structure that is cemented to the backs of the teeth. While it is less invasive and does less damage to the healthy support teeth, it also isn’t as strong or reliable as the other options. With less mechanical grip to the support teeth, it relies primarily on the cement for retention.
Selecting the right style of bridge will take into consideration how many teeth you are replacing, where the teeth are located, and the condition of the teeth that are candidates to support the bridge. Your dentist will be able to discuss the options with you and determine which one will make the most sense for your situation and give you the best final result.