Missing teeth are more than just unsightly. Gaps also increase your risk of developing issues with your gums and other dental problems. One way to literally bridge the gap in areas where teeth are missing is with dental bridges. A dental bridge is an artificial tooth (pontic) that’s typically supported by teeth on either side of the gap. While different design options are available, bridges are normally designed to blend in with your natural teeth.
Traditional Dental Bridges
The most popular type of dental bridge, a traditional bridge is an artificial tooth supported by dental crowns attached to adjacent teeth. This option is appropriate if you have natural teeth on both sides of the gap that are both healthy.
Cantilever and Maryland Bridges
A cantilever bridge is similar to traditional dental bridge. It’s also held in place by a dental crown. However, it’s only cemented on one side of the artificial tooth. This option is likely to be recommended if you only have one healthy tooth next to your gap.
A Maryland bridge, on the other hand, does require two supporting teeth on either side of the gap. But instead of a dental crown to hold it in place, metal or porcelain framework is used for this purpose. You’ll need to have healthy teeth on both side of the gap to have this type of bridge.
These dental bridges are so-named because they are supported with dental implants, not crowns or framework. Ideally, one implant is used for each missing tooth. If this isn’t possible, two implant-supported crowns may be used to support an artificial tooth. Implant-supported bridges usually require two procedures, one to attach the implants to the jawbone and another surgery for the placement of the bridge.
Reasons to Consider a Dental Bridge
For cosmetic purposes, a dental bridge is appealing because it restores your smile and provides a confidence boost. A well-placed bridge also helps with chewing and digestion by improving the force of your bite. Other benefits associated with dental bridges include:
- Improved speech and pronunciation
- A face shape that remains natural
- Reduced risk of damage to nearby teeth
- Prevention of misalignment issues with adjacent teeth
Dental bridges, while normally designed to be as durable as possible, will need to be replaced every 5-15 years, depending on how well you care for them. If you prefer a more permanent solution, a dental implant may be right for you. A dentist can help you explore your options.