As the name might suggest, a dental bridge assists in ‘bridging’ the gap created by one or more missing teeth in your mouth. A dental bridge consists of a fake tooth or multiple teeth, which is known as a pontic and replaces the missing tooth. This pontic is placed into position and is connected to natural teeth on either side of the missing tooth region; the natural teeth are known as abutments in this case and hold the pontic in place.
Types of Dental Bridges
Traditional Dental Bridges:
These are the most popular and commonly used types of bridges. The missing tooth is replaced by the pontic, which receives support from abutment teeth on either side of the missing tooth region. The abutments are connected to the pontic with the help of dental crowns that are placed onto the abutment teeth. For this, your dentist will need to shave down the enamel of the natural teeth on either side of the missing tooth region to allow for dental crowns to be placed on them.
These types of bridges are very similar to the traditional ones with a single exception. Instead of receiving support from abutments on both sides, the bridge is held in position with the pontic connected to a dental crown on just one side. Cantilever bridges are not used commonly, especially in the posterior region of the mouth. They tend to put too much force on the abutment tooth and can lead to damage to a healthy tooth.
Like a traditional bridge, Maryland bridges use support from abutment teeth on either side of the missing tooth gap. However, instead of the pontic being connected to dental crowns, it is connected to a porcelain or metal framework. This framework is bonded to the back of the abutment teeth with dental cement. Maryland bridges are usually not placed in areas of the mouth where they may endure high occlusal forces. While they have the advantage of being conservative in their tooth preparation, they lack the structural integrity of traditional bridges.
Implant-Supported Dental Bridge:
Like the name suggests, the bridge is supported with the help of dental implants instead of dental crowns or frameworks. A dental implant is usually placed in the position of each missing tooth. Alternatively, a pontic can be connected to two implant-supported crowns in case of multiple missing teeth.
Dental Bridge VS Dental Implant
Dental bridges have been the top reliable choice as a missing tooth replacement option for decades. However, their main disadvantage is the amount of preparation that is done on the abutment teeth. Healthy natural teeth around the missing teeth have to undergo considerable alteration to make room for receiving the dental crowns. In comparison, dental implants do not require any such alteration of healthy teeth and are a conservative procedure.
Moreover, while dental bridges are usually considered a permanent tooth replacement option, they do need to be replaced every few years. Dental implants last much longer in comparison. The chances of plaque accumulation between the tooth-crown interface also mean dental bridges need extra care with oral hygiene measures and are more prone to decay.
Dental bridges generally cost lesser than dental implants. But from a long-term perspective, the treatment costs incurred due to replacements of bridges may surpass that of a dental implant.
While dental implants fare better than dental bridges in most aspects, they may not be recommended in certain situations. People with inadequate bone support are not good candidates for receiving dental implants. Patients with missing teeth in regions that hold important structures like nerves, blood vessels or sinus cavities may also be advised against getting implants. Such patients benefit from receiving dental bridges instead.
Visit us at Glen Lake Family Dentistry to know the best treatment choice for you with regard to tooth replacement options.