What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is a prosthetic device used to replace one or more missing teeth. It is called a bridge because it literally bridges the gap between natural teeth or dental implants. The purpose of a dental bridge is to restore both the appearance and function of the patient’s smile.
The design of a dental bridge typically consists of two main components: the artificial teeth, also known as pontics, and the abutment teeth or dental implants. The pontics are custom-made to match the shape, size, and colour of the patient’s natural teeth for optimal aesthetics. They are usually made from materials such such as porcelain, ceramic, or metal alloys.
Types of dental bridges
Traditional or cantilever bridge
Traditional bridges are the most commonly used type and are made up of one or more pontics supported by dental crowns on both sides. The abutment teeth must be prepared by removing a layer of enamel to accommodate the dental crowns.
Cantilever bridges are similar to traditional bridges, but they only require one dental crown for support. This type of bridge is used when there is only one adjacent tooth available to act as an abutment.
A Maryland bridge, also known as a resin-bonded bridge or a Maryland bonded bridge, is a conservative and relatively non-invasive option for replacing missing teeth. Unlike traditional bridges that require reshaping and crowning adjacent healthy teeth to support the pontic, a Maryland bridge uses a metal or porcelain framework bonded to the back of adjacent teeth with resin. This type of bridge is less durable than traditional bridges and may need to be replaced more frequently.
An implant-supported bridge is a type of dental bridge that is supported by dental implants rather than natural teeth. This type of bridge is used when multiple teeth are missing or need to be replaced.
In the case of an implant-supported bridge, instead of relying on adjacent teeth for support, dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone to act as anchors for the bridge. This provides a more stable and long-lasting solution for replacing missing teeth.
What are the pros and cons of a dental bridge?
Like any dental procedure, a dental bridge has its own set of pros and cons that should be considered before opting for this treatment method.
1. Aesthetics: Dental bridges can significantly improve the appearance of a smile by filling in gaps left by missing teeth.
2. Functionality: Dental bridges restore the ability to chew and speak properly, improving overall oral function.
3. Durability: Traditional dental bridges can last for many years with proper care and maintenance.
4. Non-invasive option: Maryland bridges offer a conservative alternative that does not require reshaping or crowning adjacent healthy teeth.
5. Cost-effective: Dental bridges are generally more affordable compared to other tooth replacement options such as dental implants.
1. Potential damage to abutment teeth: Traditional bridges require the preparation of adjacent teeth, which involves removing a layer of enamel. This can weaken the abutment teeth and make them more susceptible to decay or damage in the future.
2. Increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease: Dental bridges can make it more difficult to clean between and around the artificial teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease if proper oral hygiene is not maintained.
3. Potential for discomfort or sensitivity: Some patients may experience discomfort or sensitivity in the area where the dental bridge is placed, especially in the initial stages after placement.
4. Limited lifespan: While traditional dental bridges can last for many years, they do have a limited lifespan and may need to be replaced at some point.
How long does a dental bridge last?
The lifespan of a dental bridge can vary depending on several factors, including oral hygiene practices, overall oral health, and the materials used in its construction.
On average, a well-maintained dental bridge can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years or even longer. However, it is important to note that dental bridges are not meant to last a lifetime and may eventually need to be replaced. Regular dental check-ups and proper oral hygiene practices can help extend the lifespan of a dental bridge.
How can I care for my dental bridge?
Caring for a dental bridge is essential to ensure its longevity and maintain good oral health. Here are some tips on how to care for your dental bridge:
1. Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste . Be sure to clean all surfaces of your dental bridge, including the artificial teeth and the surrounding gumline.
2. Floss daily: Use floss or an interdental brush to clean between the artificial teeth and remove any food particles or plaque build-up.
3. Rinse with mouthwash: Rinse your mouth with an antimicrobial mouthwash to help kill bacteria and prevent gum disease.
4. Avoid hard or sticky foods: Try to avoid chewing on hard or sticky foods that can potentially damage your dental bridge.
5. Visit your dentist regularly: Schedule regular check-ups with your dentist to ensure the health and integrity of your dental bridge. Your dentist can assess the condition of your bridge, clean it thoroughly, and make any necessary adjustments or repairs.
By following these care tips and maintaining good oral hygiene practices, you can help prolong the lifespan of your dental bridge and ensure its continued functionality.