Do you have one or more missing teeth? You are one of the 120 million Americans who have missing teeth. Fortunately, modern dentistry offers durable replacement options to help you achieve a healthy smile.
A dental bridge is one of the dentist’s most recommended solutions to fix missing teeth in the best way. 5 types of dental bridges are normally being used today - Cantilever bridges, traditional bridges, Maryland bridges, Implant Supported and Composite bridges.
Unfortunately, people aged 20 or older have at least one infected or decaying tooth, leading to gapped teeth. If you belong to the same age group, you should be aware of these different types of dental bridges.
What are Dental Bridges?
Dental bridges are a restoration procedure to replace a missing tooth. They can be made of different materials that are infused together to fill the void where natural teeth used to be.
A dental bridge can comprise different materials, including alloys, porcelain, gold, etc. Each has unique properties and longevity. For instance, porcelain is the most common dental bridge material used to replace front teeth as it can easily match your natural tooth color.
Why Does a Person Need a Dental Bridge?
As discussed earlier, a dental bridge help fill the gap due to missing teeth by replacing it with false ones. Not just they restore your bite, but they improve the shape of your teeth and overall appearance.
People suffering from tooth decay, gingivitis, or other dental diseases that eventually lead to missing teeth need dental bridges later in life to fill the space. Also, people born with missing teeth due to a by-birth disorder need dental bridges to fix their smiles. However, in order to get dental bridges, one must have healthy teeth on either or at least one side of the gap.
How Many Types of Dental Bridges are There?Typically, 5 types of bridges dental are available to choose from, depending on your dental condition and the location of the missing teeth. Following, we have discussed all four types and described when each is used.
1. Traditional Dental Bridges
A traditional bridge is the most used dental bridge to restore missing teeth. They are recommended when a patient has natural teeth or implants on either side of the gap.
Traditional bridges mainly comprise ceramic or porcelain material infused with metals to provide firm support as replaced molars. The only downside of these dental bridges is that they need extra oral hygiene to last a long time.
Also, your dentist may have to remove some of the enamel from your adjacent teeth to fix a crown to support the false teeth. And since enamel doesn’t grow back, it's a lifetime loss once it's removed.
2. Cantilever Bridges
These bridges are prescribed to those with one abutment or natural teeth available to support the false teeth. They are not designed for back teeth where immense pressure is applied on the anchor tooth.
For application, your dentist will need to remove the enamel of the adjacent tooth to fix a crown on it. One downside of cantilever bridges is that they have a higher chance of losing a tooth and tooth fractures.
3. Maryland Bridges
Maryland or resin-bonded bridges are best known for fixing one missing tooth in the anterior part of the mouth. So if you have a missing front tooth, your dentist will probably prescribe these.
These bridges comprise plastic similar to gum material secured by a metal frame with two free ends (like wings) to provide space to attach to the adjacent teeth. The metal attachments are installed to the natural anchor teeth on opposing sides during application to support the bridge.
Maryland bridges offer a more conservative restoration than its alternatives, as they don’t require reshaping adjacent teeth for crown placement.
4. Composite Bridge
Composite bridges serve as a savior for those who want a quick fix without denting their wallet. They have a quick procedure and typically get fixed in a single sitting.
The treatment involves placing a composite binding material directly into the void to fill and smoothen it. That said, like Maryland bridges, the quality of composite bridges is questionable. They are prone to chipping and debonding.
That means they offer a temporary solution that would work fine for people with periodontal diseases.
5. Implant-supported Bridges
Implant-supported was a less common type of dental bridge until recent years. The reason is that these bridges don’t require adjacent teeth support to fix as they exclusively use implants to provide strength and firmness.
Putting more than two implants is not recommended as it leads to major complications like implant rejections and failures in the long run. When plaque accumulates on the implants and travels down the tunnels, it damages the healthy bone leading to peri-implantitis.
Application Procedure of Traditional Dental Bridge
Almost all types of dental bridges require two or more sittings to fix the bite. Here is how a traditional dental bridge is installed:
Step 1 - Adjacent teeth preparation
The first step involves preparing the adjacent teeth by reshaping them, which requires the removal of some parts of enamel and dentin.
Step 2 - Impressions
In the next step, your dentist will conduct a digital scan of your teeth to create a model for the bridge. Meanwhile, a temporary bridge will be placed to fill the gap until the false teeth are prepared and fixed.
Step 3 - Bridge Placement
The last step may be done on the next visit, which involves replacing the temporary bridge with a permanent one with the help of appropriate tools. The dentist will carefully check the placement of the bridge to determine if it needs further adjustments.
Dental Bridges Advantages
1. Don’t require surgery
A dental bridge does not require surgery to restore the bite unless you opt for an implant. Whether it’s a cantilever, Maryland, or Traditional bridge, all are quick and outpatient procedures and can be completed in two visits.
Read more: 50 Soft Foods to Eat after Dental Surgery
Dental bridges are more affordable than dental implants due to their quick procedure.
3. More durable than dentures
Unlike dentures that chip or break while eating/chewing, dental bridges have a minimum lifespan of 5 years before they need to be replaced.
4. Have a better feel than dentures
Dental bridges look and feel more realistic than dentures which are more noticeable and feel uncomfortable in the mouth.
Dental Bridge Disadvantages
1. Require alteration to healthy teeth
Dental bridges damage adjacent natural teeth as they require removing some part of their enamel to fix a crown.
2. Not as long-lasting as implants
A dental bridge can last approximately 7 years. After that, they must be replaced. On the other hand, dental implants are more durable and can last for 15 straight years.
3. Don’t address bone loss
Dental bridges don’t stop bone loss in the jaw. Since they are placed over the gumline and not rooted in the gums, your jawbone will continue to deteriorate.
Which dental bridge is best for front teeth?
Maryland bridges are mostly recommended to fix anterior missing teeth as they use a metal framework to attach to the backs of the adjacent teeth to fill the void.
What is the Cheapest Type of Dental Bridge?
A removable bridge is another type of dental bridge that is attached with the help of the abutment teeth to fill the gap. While these partial dentures are not as firm as traditional or fixed bridges, they offer an instant fix to improve the bite.
They cost between $300 to $2,500, depending on the number of teeth.
Why is a Dental Bridge not Recommended?
Whether it's a traditional, Maryland, or Cantilever bridge, all forms of dental bridges are prone to damage in one way or another. Most of these types require shaving down the adjacent natural teeth to fix a crown over them, increasing the chances of permanent damage to healthy teeth.
Additionally, dental bridges are put over the gumline, causing it to deteriorate. Therefore, most dentists offer dental implants than bridges for a more durable solution.
What is the Strongest Dental Bridge?
While the lifespan of dental bridges is not as good as implants, gold bridges are considered the strongest among them. Moreover, they are water resistant and do not impact the gum tissues at all.
These 5 types of dental bridges cater to different needs and oral conditions. Overall, they are a decent replacement to restore a gap in the teeth until you make up your mind about dental implants, which are costlier but more long-lasting.These 5 types of dental bridges cater to different needs and oral conditions. Overall, they are a decent replacement to restore a gap in the teeth until you make up your mind about dental implants, which are costlier but more long-lasting.