A missing tooth creates a slew of problems which are more than just aesthetic. While many people feel self-conscious to the point of not being able to smile because of a missing tooth, the more serious problems caused by these gaps can include jaw discomfort, pain when chewing food, and changes in your face shape and the way you bite.
A dental bridge is a popular solution to the problem of a missing tooth. It is also used to solve the problem of a gap that causes your other teeth to become loose. A bridge involves a replacement tooth to fill in the space of the missing tooth in a natural-looking way.
Your dentist will determine the right type of bridge from the following:
- Traditional dental bridges – This is the most popular type of dental bridge. It is made up of one or more fake teeth (pontics) that are held in place when they are cemented to real teeth that have been specially prepared (abutments). A traditional bridge is used when there are natural teeth on both sides of the gap.
- Cantilever dental bridges – A cantilever bridge is akin to the traditional one except that it only requires an abutment on one side of the missing tooth. This bridge needs only one natural tooth on either side of the gap.
- Maryland bridges – A Maryland bridge is a type of conservative bridge that is made up of a pontic that is held in place by a structure composed of metal or porcelain. The framework is attached to the two teeth next to the missing tooth. The bridge is not held in place by crowns, which eliminates the need to file the adjacent teeth.
- Implant-supported bridges – This type of bridge is an ideal option when more than one tooth is missing. Instead of the bridges supported by crowns, they are supported by dental implants. The bridge consists of a pontic that is suspended between two implant-supported crowns.
Placement of dental bridges
During your first visit, your dentist will prepare the abutment teeth. The preparation includes the recontouring of the teeth by removing portions of the enamel to make room for the crown.
Your dentist will next make impressions of your teeth to use as a model when making the bridge, pontic, and crowns. He or she will then fit you with a temporary bridge as a protection for the exposed teeth and gums.
Your dentist will remove the temporary bridge during the second visit and affix the permanent one. He or she will then check the permanent bridge and adjust it to achieve a perfect fit. One visit may not be enough to get the metal framework and bite just right. Your dentist will most likely temporarily cement the new bridge in place and observe it for a couple of weeks to make sure there is a proper fit.
Dental bridges have a lifespan of about five to 15 years, but they could last for longer than that. The lifespan of your bridges will depend on how well you take care of them. If you make sure to see your dentist at least twice a year and practice good oral hygiene, your dental bridge may last much longer.