Tooth loss is common, but it is important to seek treatment for the gap caused by a missing tooth or teeth. Replacement teeth increase the functionality of your mouth and help promote your overall oral health.
Dental bridges sit in the gap created by the missing tooth or missing teeth. They replace the teeth, improving the aesthetics of your smile and the functionality of your mouth. Like any dental restoration, there are advantages and disadvantages to this tooth replacement option.
What Are Dental Bridges?
Dental bridges are artificial teeth that replace a missing tooth or multiple teeth and attach to the adjacent remaining teeth.
The teeth the bridge sits on, called abutment teeth, are shaved down very slightly to allow crowns to be placed on top of them, to anchor the bridge. Sometimes, if the surrounding teeth are not strong enough, a dental bridge may need to be attached to dental implants, for an implant-supported bridge.
They’re usually made from materials like porcelain or resin that match a patient's natural tooth color, so they look just like natural teeth.
A traditional bridge is most common, with a crown on either side of the false tooth or teeth. A Maryland bridge may be used for front teeth, as it uses porcelain or metal frames on the back of teeth for a more natural look. A cantilever bridge is anchored by only one if there is only a single tooth to attach to.
Dental bridges aim to create a more natural-looking smile and make it easier to talk and chew. They also help maintain your facial structure by preventing adjacent teeth from shifting towards the gap and other oral health concerns.
It is best if they are installed by experienced dentists, to reduce the risks of concerns, like bacteria getting into an ill-fitting bridge or crowns and causing tooth decay. If dental bridges are not fitted well, fitting teeth are more likely to be damaged and weakened; also if these teeth are not strong enough, the dental bridge can break or become loose. The structure of your teeth and bite can be negatively impacted.
What Other Options Are There For Missing Teeth?
Getting a dental restoration of any type is critical to prevent other teeth from shifting and loss of jawbone structure, as well as helping you eat and speak. Leaving a gap negatively impacts overall oral health, resulting in damage to remaining healthy teeth, bone loss, and more. The most common options are dentures, dental implants, or dental bridges. It is important to have your gap treated as soon as possible.
Partial dentures are one option to fill gaps in one or several missing teeth. They clip onto existing teeth and are removable.
Dental Bridge vs. A Partial Denture
A partial denture is usually the cheapest upfront option for dental restorations for lost teeth, but will not be as comfortable or secure as a dental bridge, and is not as functional for chewing or talking. While partial dentures may move while you talk and eat, a bridge is permanently attached and is more secure.
Dentures also need special daily cleaning, unlike a bridge which is cleaned the same way as your other teeth.
Space maintainers may be an option if you can’t afford to replace your tooth right away. They are simple devices to prevent the teeth around a gap from shifting. They are usually used for children to maintain a space until adult teeth erupt. They are not as functional as other restorations and are generally a temporary solution only.
A dental implant is a titanium post screwed into the jaw bone, which acts as an artificial tooth root; a crown or bridge is then attached to it, which replaces the visible portion of your tooth. It is the only dental restoration that replaces both the tooth and tooth root.
Both a dental implant and a dental bridge provide the look of natural teeth, as well as more comfort and functionality than a denture, but as with all dental restorations, there are pros and cons.
Advantages and Disadvantages Of Dental Bridges Compared To Dental Implants
Advantages Of Dental Bridges
There are some practical benefits that bridges offer. Dental insurance is more likely to cover a dental bridge, and bridges have lower upfront costs, which are important factors for many patients. Also, if you have multiple missing teeth, a dental bridge may be more feasible than a separate surgery and implant for each space.
Bone grafting is also not required for bridges, which some implant candidates do require before their surgeries. A candidate needs enough jaw bone density and quantity for successful implant integration. There may be other reasons why some patients may choose to avoid implant surgery, such as a medical condition like leukemia, untreated diabetes, or periodontal disease, that slows healing.
Another factor for some people is the time required for a dental restoration; bridges can be completed in just two dentist visits within two weeks, while implants may take up to six months.
Disadvantages Of Dental Bridges
Bridges may not be as long-lasting as an implant, which is the most permanent option. Bridges have to be replaced about every ten to fifteen years, although they can last longer. The natural look of a bridge fades gradually over time.
With a bridge, especially since the surrounding teeth are shaved down slightly to accommodate the dental restoration, there is a higher risk of decay and cavities.
Because a bridge does not have an artificial root like an implant, it won't offer the same benefits that an implant does in stimulating the bone and preventing bone loss.
You may also still need dental implants. If teeth are not strong enough, implant-supported bridges are necessary.
Waterloo West Dentistry offers professional dental bridge services to ensure the best results for you.