Missing one or more teeth is common for many people. This can happen as a result of sports injuries, decay, old dental work failing or just being born that way. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions to replace missing teeth, including dental bridges.
What is a Dental Bridge? A dental bridge is permanently cemented appliance that literally bridges the space in your smile where teeth are missing and is the most common way to replace missing teeth. The bridge consists of two “abutments” (or supports) that sit on either side of the gap and a “pontic” (or synthetic tooth) that sits in the gap and replaces the missing tooth. The crowns that support the bridge resemble natural teeth and are highly durable making this an excellent choice and preferable to a removable partial denture.
What are the benefits of a dental bridge? A dental bridge has both cosmetic and health benefits. Cosmetically, it will fill the gap in your smile and will also restore the shape of your face and improve your appearance by supporting sagging muscles and filling out sunken cheeks. In addition to these cosmetic benefits, a dental bridge restores the function of your teeth, allowing you to speak and chew properly without having a removable appliance. A dental bridge also prevents teeth from drifting out of position and damaging other teeth or causing periodontal disease. It can also help relieve inflammation and pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) due to a malaligned bite.
What types of dental bridge are available? There are three main types of dental bridge available.
- Traditional bridges involve creating a crown for the tooth or implant on either side of the missing tooth, with a synthetic tooth (or “pontic”) in between. Traditional bridges are the most common type of bridge and are made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics.
- Maryland bonded bridges (also called a resin-bonded bridge or a Maryland bridge) are made of porcelain or porcelain fused to metal, supported by a metal or porcelain framework. Metal or porcelain wings, often on just one side of the bridge, are bonded to your existing teeth. This can be an excellent solution when the teeth on either side of the gap are healthy, if implants are not an option or where the patient is young and still growing.
- Cantilever bridges are used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. This is not very common any more and is not recommended in the back of the mouth where it can put too much force on other teeth and damage them.
- Implant Supported Bridges involve using a dental implant, instead of an existing tooth, to provide support for one or both sides of a dental bridge. This is a popular option that can provide a very secure restoration. This solution is particularly helpful when there are several adjacent missing teeth.
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