A dental bridge is a fake tooth – or set of fake teeth – used to fill the gap left after teeth are extracted. The bridge replaces the visible portion of the extracted tooth and it’s not inserted into the gum. The bridge stays in place because it’s bonded to the remaining teeth on either side of the gap.
When the size, shape, and color are correct, it’s impossible to tell the difference between a dental bridge and natural teeth. When properly cared for, a dental bridge can last up to 15 years or longer.
Some people prefer a dental bridge to dentures because the bridge stays in place. Unlike dentures, a dental bridge doesn’t slide or move around when you eat or speak. It’s possible to comfortably eat and speak when you have a dental bridge, the same as with your natural teeth.
Do You Need a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge was at one time the main option for replacing missing teeth. It was better than leaving the gap, and more convenient than dentures. But for modern dental patients, dental implants are a popular choice.
Dental implants last longer than other methods of replacing extracted teeth. The implants also keep the jaw bone from eroding, which often happens with other replacement options such as a dental bridge.
When an implant isn’t an option, a dental bridge is generally the best choice.
A dental bridge is useful in many scenarios. There are different types of dental bridges. And they are grouped based on the materials used in their construction. Dental bridges generally made from porcelain.
Bridge Classification Based on Placement
Dental bridges are also classified based on how they fit or by how they are attached to the remaining teeth. There are three types, each best suited for different scenarios.
1. Maryland. A Maryland bridge is attached to the teeth remaining on either side of a gap, but the bridge is attached directly to the teeth, without covering those teeth with crowns. Only a small area, such as one or two teeth, can accommodate this type of bridge. It’s also only used for front teeth. This type of crown is used when the teeth on either side of a gap can’t handle a crown.
2. Cantilever. When one or more back teeth are missing, it’s often impossible to attach a bridge. For situations such as this, dentists often suggest what’s known as a cantilever bridge.
A cantilever bridge attaches to a tooth on one side of the gap. The supporting tooth must have a crown to provide support for the bridge. Because the bridge is attached to only one tooth, it puts extra strain on the supporting tooth. Because of the extra strain, it’s very important to monitor the health of this type of bridge.
3. Traditional. A traditional bridge is the most common type of bridge. A crown is placed on the teeth on either side of the gap. The bridge is then attached to the crowns. This is the most simple type of bridge, and generally the easiest to put in place unlike a crown or veneers.
What Should You Expect from a Dental Bridge?
It generally takes two trips to get your bridge completed. During your first visit, the teeth on either side of the gap are prepared for the bridge. If you’re getting a crown, your dentist will remove some of the enamel from the supporting teeth. This is necessary so the crown will fit correctly.
The dentist will then create an impression of your teeth, and send the impression to a dental lab so they can create the bridge. This takes time, so you’ll wear a temporary bridge until the permanent one is finished.
When you return for your second appointment, the dentist will cement your permanent bridge into place.
Expense of a Dental Bridge
Bridges can be more cost affective than dental implants but are still a financial investment.
Dental Bridge: Recovery and Care
You might feel some discomfort while you adjust to the bridge. It’s possible that your crowned teeth will experience heightened sensitivity for a few days.
Slight discomfort is no cause for alarm. Nerves in your teeth can take time to heal after dental procedures.
A dental bridge can last up to 15 years or longer. It all depends on how well you care for the bridge. Here are some tips:
1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day. This keeps the bridge free of bacteria and other harmful debris.
2. Get a yearly checkup from your dentist. This will provide early detection for any potential problems with your bridge.
3. Floss between your gums and the bridge. Just like with your natural teeth, bacteria can accumulate around and on the bridge. This can lead to gum disease. If you don’t know how to floss, make an appointment with your dentist to learn how.
4. Use an antiseptic mouthwash. This type of mouthwash kills germs that can get on your bridge.
As for what you’re allowed to eat, there aren’t any special rules to follow, but it helps to avoid foods that are hard or crunchy. Foods that are hard or crunchy can put too much strain on the supporting teeth. When eating these types of foods, it’s best to chew using your natural teeth instead of the bridge.