Many people wonder, what is a dental bridge, before talking to their dentist about these tooth replacement options, few people realize that four types of bridges serve very different needs. So when your dentist considers this type of device for your full smile, get to know the options for your treatment plan.
What is a Dental Bridge?
Let us first answer the broad question of, what is a dental bridge? A bridge is a type of tooth replacement that maintains a healthy spacing of your existing teeth while replacing one or more missing ones. Properly crafted and fitted, your bridge makes eating and talking more comfortable while also hiding gaps in your smile. Having a bridge keeps other teeth from shifting out of place and loosening due to extra space in your mouth.
Like any restorative dentistry option, bridges offer different styles, methods and cost ranges. This makes it necessary to discuss your options with your dentist, to ensure common goals for your tooth replacement.
Types of Bridges
iThe four different types of dental bridges include traditional, cantilever, Maryland, and dental implant-supported appliances. Each of these styles serves specific purposes and replaces one or more teeth in its own way. Each also offers unique pros and cons to consider before selecting your bridge type.
Traditional bridges support one or more false teeth, called pontics. These pontics remain in place through abutments, other teeth on each side with supportive crowns. Dentists sometimes choose traditional bridges when a tooth is missing or a gap exists between two other healthy teeth.
Traditional bridges bring some downsides, however. First, the dentist must remove some enamel from healthy teeth on both sides of the gap. This makes room for fitting the supportive crowns that hold your bridge and pontic in place. He then cements the crowns onto these teeth, with the bridge running between them.
Tooth enamel does not grow back. So crowns must become permanent, once your dentist removes enamel to fit the bridge.
Cantilever bridges provide similar support as a traditional bridge. But you only use one supporting tooth on one side of the pontic. The downside of this type is that supporting the pontic and its wear and tear sometimes damages the healthy abutment tooth.
Like traditional bridges, Maryland bridges gain support from other teeth. But instead of using dental crowns to form this support, the dentist bonds a framework to the back of healthy adjacent teeth. This means you experience a lower possibility of damage to the abutment teeth. But with Maryland bridges, your bridge strength relies on resin holding it in place.
Implant Supported Bridges
A dental implant can support a bridge, instead of relying on surrounding natural teeth. This type of bridge works when you need a replacement for more than one tooth. Because implants hold the bridge in place, these fit securely and comfortably without causing additional damage to healthy teeth. But this method requires one or more surgeries for placement of your implants over a lengthy period of time.
Healthy Smiles Include Natural-Looking Tooth Replacement
Your dentist’s first goal is to help you maintain a healthy, natural smile. But when you need tooth replacement, bridges offer one option. Other dental services you may need include: