What are Dental Bridges?
Dental bridges are natural-looking or anatomically similar tooth replacements that help maintain facial structure, minimize drifting of adjacent or opposing teeth and fill in the gaps caused by missing teeth.
What are the benefits of a dental bridge?
- Improve appearance of smile
- Restore the ability to properly bite and chew
- Improve pronunciation and speech
- Prevent teeth from shifting
Types of Dental Bridges
There are three main types of bridges:
Traditional bridges, also known as fixed bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth. The procedure involves creating a crown for the tooth or implant on either side of the missing tooth, with a pontic, or a false tooth, in between. Fixed bridges are the most common type of dental bridges and are either made out of porcelain fused to metal or out of ceramics.
Resin-bonded bridges are often used for the front teeth, but can also be used for teeth in the back, primarily the smaller teeth in front of the molars called the bicuspids. This type of bridge is best to use when the teeth are healthy without any large fillings. During this procedure, a false tooth is fused with resin to metal bands which are then bonded to the adjacent teeth and hidden from view. Resin-bonded bridges require only minimal preparation of the adjacent teeth. If the tooth that is being bonded to is thin or translucent, then this bridge may not be a good alternative as the metal may shine through leaving an imperfect esthetic result.
These bridges are used in areas of the mouth that are under minimal stress. It can be a back tooth that is large with a smaller tooth added on that is smaller. It can also be used in the anterior (front) areas of the mouth where a crown is placed on the larger tooth, i.e. cuspid or central and a smaller tooth is added as a pontic to fill in the gap that is present. This type of bridge is recommended when there are teeth on only one side of the open space or when attaching to another tooth to make a bridge is not possible or recommended. Sometimes this is used when one does not want to “cut down” or prep a perfectly good tooth so that one tooth or implant holds the crown and the gap is filled with the pontic.
What is the process of getting a dental bridge at Deer Park Dental?
We first recommend a complete exam and appropriate x-rays as a bridge or any other dental treatment may or may not be the best choice depending on what is the condition of the teeth in the rest of the mouth. It is important first to understand the dental health of the patient, all of the remaining teeth and bone and then get a comprehensive evaluation and discussion of all of your options BEFORE any work is done.
If a bridge is recommended for you, x-rays will have been taken along with study models (models of your existing teeth and gums). It will then be evaluated what type of bridge will be done and if it involves only natural teeth or implants. Implants require patience and time as the implants must be planned out to be placed in the appropriate location to have a good esthetic and structurally sound result. Implants are also not a quick fix, they take time to integrate in the bone, pre-plan and execute for excellent results.
Once everything is ready to go, it is a process of preparing the teeth to fit the crown or taking an impression over the implant to create an aesthetic and functionally sound result that can last a long time. Temporaries are placed and the bridge is made.
How long do they last?
Bridges can last a few years to 5-10 years and they can last a life-time. With good oral hygiene the dental bridge can last from 5 to 15 years, sometimes longer. It is important that you continue proper care of the teeth and gums to prevent bacteria or plaque. Dental visits and cleanings are still required when you have dental bridges.
The critical factors are: 1) occlusion – how the teeth fit together and how they function together, 2) the home care or oral hygiene care of the patient – poor oral hygiene, lack of proper brushing and flossing, can lead to early loss of a tooth from cavities or periodontal disease, and yes, implants can also develop gum disease. We at Deer Park Dental pride ourselves in providing comprehensive home care instruction so that you can help your dental work to last as long as possible.
If you have any concern or question, call our dentists at Deer Park Dental for a comprehensive examination to explore all your needs, questions and desires as we look for solutions for any dental issues that are present.
What to expect after procedure
After replacing the missing teeth, it sometime takes a while to get used to the bridges new shape and position in the mouth. It is also different to clean around a bridge than natural single teeth as the teeth are splinted so one cannot floss between the teeth on the bridge. At Deer Park Dental we will give excellent instruction on the best tools for you to clean around your bridge and keep the tissue around your bridge healthy. In the first few weeks of receiving a bridge, it is common for a patient to experience sensitivity. This can be from the materials placed or from the position that the patients bite together. It is always important that if biting is uncomfortable or sensitive, that you contact your dentist immediately to check if there is a high spot on the crown or bridge. The patient may also notice an improvement in speech with the new bridge in place. Some patients on the contrary have to learn to speak with the new bridge. Reading out loud is very helpful in learning to speak with a new appliance such as a new bridge.
How much do they cost?
Typically a tooth supported bridge will be the cost of three crowns: two on the sides and one pontic in the middle. If a cantilever bridge is an option, then the cost will be reduced by the fee of one crown. If an implant bridge is indicated then the costs will increase by the cost of the implants. Also, bone grafts or a sinus lift with a bone graft may be necessary to help stabilize the implant which will be an additional cost.
If the bone is thin and unpredictable, your dentist and surgeon may recommend a cone beam scan that will show exactly where the bone is and the thickness of the bone to determine the placement of the implant. This can be crucial to having a successful result from your implant. A newer technique is a CT guided implant. This is where a guide is created from a CT scan to place the implant in the best place possible. It is recommended to take the time to understand all your options and then decide what the best treatment for you is.