What is a bridge?
A bridge is a fixed restoration that replaces one or more missing teeth using the adjacent teeth as anchors.
Bridges can restore your smile, improve ability to eat and speak, maintain the shape of your face and prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position.
Can I always have a bridge to replace missing teeth?
A bridge is not always a suitable treatment option. This decision will be made with your dentist depending on the number of teeth missing, where in the mouth and the condition of the remaining teeth in your mouth.
There are also different types of bridge which use different fixing methods. Your dentist will choose the most effective and conservative bridge for your personal situation:
- Traditional Dental Bridges
Traditional bridges consist of one or more false teeth and are held in place by dental crowns. These dental crowns are also called abutments, and they are cemented onto the teeth adjacent to your missing tooth.Traditional bridges can be used when you have natural teeth on both sides of the gap created by your missing tooth. Bridges are even strong enough to replace molars. The downside of traditional bridges is that your dentist will need to prepare the adjacent teeth by removing their enamel to make room for the crowns that will be cemented on top. Since enamel doesn’t grow back, these teeth will always need to be protected with crowns, even if you later choose a different type of bridge.
- Cantilever Bridges
Cantilever bridges are similar to traditional bridges, but the false tooth is supported by an abutment on only one side, rather than on both sides.Like traditional bridges, your dentist will need to prepare the adjacent tooth to support the bridge by removing its enamel. Because these restorations are only supported on one side, they may act as a lever and in some cases, may lead to further complications.
- Maryland Bridges
Maryland bridges are considered a conservative alternative to traditional bridges. These bridges consist of a false tooth that is held in place by a metal or porcelain framework. This framework is bonded onto the backs of one or two teeth adjacent to the missing tooth.While Maryland bridges are more conservative than traditional bridges, they do have their downsides. The strength of the bridge is limited by the strength of the resin that holds it in place, so it may not stay in place in areas of the mouth where the teeth are subjected to a lot of biting force, like the molars.
- Implant-Supported Bridges
Implant-supported bridges are another option for replacing missing teeth. They can be used when you have more than one tooth missing. Instead of being supported by crowns or frameworks, these bridges are supported by dental implants.