Missing or broken teeth are more than a cosmetic concern. If teeth remain broken or missing, they will cause real damage to your other teeth, gums, and jawbone.
Dental bridges are a popular way to restore your appearance, while also protecting your oral health for decades to come. Learn more about dental bridges, and how they can save your smile.
Just What is a Dental Bridge, Anyway?
Dental bridges are a special kind of dental implant, one that "bridges" the gap in your smile. They typically consist of a false tooth (or pontic), with a crown on each side that attaches to your existing, healthy teeth. It may be possible to have more than one pontic in a single bridge, if you are missing multiple teeth.
It's very important to replace missing teeth quickly, because they can cause a chain reaction of further tooth loss. Your teeth hold each other in place, and when an empty space forms, the remaining teeth tend to start drifting. They can even begin to stick too far out of your gumline: this is called supra-eruption, and it leads to serious oral health issues. And, of course, it can be harder to brush and floss effectively, which may cause you to develop cavities and gum disease.
With a dental bridge, you can fill the space left behind by missing teeth with natural-looking, fully functional replacements. Ask your dentist if a bridge might be the right choice for you.
Types of Dental Bridges
Each patient's situation is unique, and your dental bridge will be placed with that in mind. That said, all dental bridges fall into one of three main types:
- Traditional bridges. The most common choice, traditional bridges use crowns on either side of the missing tooth/teeth to anchor the pontic in place. They are simple and effective, but they do require your anchor teeth to be in excellent health and condition—otherwise, the implant could fail.
- Cantilever bridges. Cantilever bridges are used when the gap between remaining teeth is too large to span with a single bridge. A crown is placed only on one side of the gap, and anchors a pontic in place by itself. This difference aside, cantilever bridges are very similar overall to traditional bridges.
- Maryland bonded bridges. Rather than full-fledged crowns, a Maryland bonded bridge uses small, wing-shaped bits of metal and/or porcelain to provide support for the pontic. These wings are bonded to the surface of your adjacent healthy teeth.
Each type of dental bridge has certain advantages over the others, and every patient's situation is unique. Speak with your dentist to determine which bridge will be the best fit for you.
How Long Do Dental Bridges Last?
You can typically expect your dental bridge to last anywhere from 5 to 15 years, although every situation is different. Bridges may fail due to decay in the teeth supporting the crown, or the metal/porcelain of the bridge itself may become damaged.
Proper oral care is the most important factor when it comes to prolonging the life of your dental bridge. Not only can cavities and gum disease cause bridges to fail, but they will also make replacements harder to fit successfully. Remember to brush and floss daily, and continue to receive regular dental check-ups and cleanings.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
As mentioned, replacing your missing teeth is about more than appearances (although those are important as well). Dental bridges actually maintain the original shape of your face and jawbone while also keeping your other teeth in check. Biting and chewing motions stimulate the growth of the underlying bone, which is why people who go years with missing teeth tend to develop shrunken, misshapen jawbones.
A better smile, clearer speech, and more confidence all around. Dental bridges bring an incredible sense of relief to each and every patient. For more information on your options, contact services like Dentures By Denturists.