Curious about dental bridges? There are many reasons why people lose their teeth. And, there are almost as many replacement options for missing teeth, from dentures and dental bridges, to dental implants. The option that’s right for you depends in part on your budget and specific needs, as each have their benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look at dental bridges, so that you can decide if they are the replacement option for you.
Materials Used in Dental Bridges
As its name suggests, a dental bridge bridges the gap when at least one tooth is missing. Each side of the bridge attaches to a natural tooth or implant in the mouth, and fake teeth, known as pontics, fill in the space between. Typically, dental bridges are used when one or more teeth are missing.
A dental bridge can be made from a variety of materials, which differ in terms of appearance and cost. Metal alloys are often the least expensive, but they look like metal. Gold bridges are pricier and are gold in color, so they don’t exactly give you a natural look. Porcelain bridges tend to be pricier than metal, but have the benefit of looking like actual, natural teeth. They can be a bit more fragile than metal or gold and are prone to chipping. If you have a porcelain bridge, you’d want to treat it with the same care you treat your natural teeth.
Types of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges are divided into different types, based on how they are attached to the teeth in the mouth. In the case of a traditional bridge, the pontic is attached to a crown or a dental implant on either side. When you go in for your initial appointment, the dentist will reshape teeth in your mouth so that a crown can fit over them or install the implant. He’ll take an impression and use that to create the crowns and pontic for the actual bridge. While you wait for your dental bridge, you’ll be given a temporary replacement to wear.
Another type of dental bridge is the Maryland bonded bridge. Instead of capping the neighboring teeth with a crown or replacing them with an implant, the dentist bonds the bridge to the existing teeth. The least common type of dental bridge is a cantilever bridge, which is attached to a tooth on only one side. A cantilever bridge is rarely used, as it can put a lot of pressure on the remaining teeth, causing damage.
Reasons to Get a Dental Bridge
Why would you get a dental bridge? Although tooth loss is considerably less common these days than it was decades ago, people do occasionally have problems with their teeth that require removal. For example, if you had an advanced form of gum disease, one or more of your teeth might be damaged enough that removing them is the best option. You might have lost a tooth due to an accident or extreme tooth decay. In some cases, people consider dental bridges to replace teeth that are very discolored or misshapen.
Why not just leave the area around the missing tooth alone? For a number of reasons. When a tooth is gone, the remaining teeth have space to move and shift. If the remaining teeth move out of position, it can be difficult for you to speak or chew your food.
Replacing any missing teeth also allows you to maintain the shape of your face. When there are spaces where teeth should be, the shape of the face changes.
Finally, replacing your missing teeth with a dental bridge or dental implant can make you feel more confident about your smile. You’ll once again have teeth in the area, and will want to show them off.
How Dental Bridges are Different from Other Options
Dentures, bridges, and implants can all replace missing teeth. But, they aren’t the same and don’t necessarily offer the same benefits. The main appeal of dentures for some patients is their lower cost.
But, that low cost is often overshadowed by the fact that dentures are trickier to care for. You need to remove them from your mouth to clean them and before you go to bed. There’s a risk of swallowing your dentures if you fall asleep with them in place. There’s also a risk of losing them if you take them out and misplace them.
Dental implants tend to last the longest, are low maintenance, and are very durable. When you get an implant, the dentist first places a titanium post in the gum and jawbone to replace the tooth’s root. A crown is placed on top of the post, so that you end up with a tooth replacement that is firmly secured to your gums and that looks as good (in some cases better!) than your natural teeth.
Dental bridges also have a long lifespan, usually at least 10 years. You can brush and care for them like natural teeth. Since the pontic isn’t secured to the gum and jawbone like an implant is, you might have to use some extra care when cleaning your mouth. You’ll also want to be extra careful to make sure the teeth holding the implant in place don’t rot or become damaged, as you need those teeth for the bridge to be successful.
At their dental implant practice in Miami, Florida, Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas specialize in teeth replacements with dental implants. To learn more about your options when it’s time to replace a tooth, call 305-447-1447 to schedule your free initial consultation at Gallardo & Lamas today.