A dental bridge is a type of dental restoration procedure where a fixed bridge is used for replacing missing teeth. This is usually achieved by fixing an artificial tooth or teeth to adjacent dental implants or adjacent teeth. Basically, it is used to bridge the gap created by missing teeth. The dental bridge will cover the area where one or more teeth are missing. Dental bridges are fixed to the dental implants or natural teeth around the gap to give it support.
A dental bridge usually consists of at least two crowns/anchoring teeth for the adjacent teeth on each side of the gap. These crowns/anchoring teeth are known as abutment teeth and have at least a false tooth in-between. That is, a dental bridge consists of an anchoring tooth followed by false teeth and then an anchoring tooth. This false tooth is called pontic and is usually made from porcelain, alloys, gold, or a combination of these materials.
What Are the Benefits of a Dental Bridge?
The dental bridge comes with lots of benefits, such as:
- Preventing remaining teeth from shifting out of position.
- Distributing the forces for chewing and biting properly by replacing the missing tooth.
- Restoring and maintaining the shape of the face.
- Restoring the ability to speak and chew properly.
- Improving smile.
What Are the Types of Dental Bridges Available?
There are mainly three types of dental bridges:
- Maryland bonded bridges: these are also known as a Maryland bridge or a resin-bonded bridge. They are made of either porcelain-fused-to-metal or porcelain. They can also be made of plastic teeth and gums, which are supported by a porcelain or metal structure. The porcelain or metal framework support always act as the abutment tooth, which is fixed to the existing teeth on just one side.
- Cantilever bridges: these type of dental bridge are used when the adjacent teeth are only on one side of the gap. This type of dental bridge is not commonly in use anymore and should not be used in the back of the mouth where it can exert so much pressure on other teeth to damage them.
- Traditional bridges: these are the most commonly used type of dental bridge and are made of either ceramic or porcelain-fused-to-metal. Traditional bridges require creating a crown for the dental implant or artificial tooth on both side of the missing tooth/teeth, with a pontic or pontics in-between as the case may be.
How to Get a Dental Bridge?
When you visit a dentist for the first time to get a dental bridge fixed, the anchoring teeth (abutment teeth) are prepared. The preparation of abutment teeth involves re-contouring them to remove some parts of the enamel to give room for a crown to be fit into them. After this, the impressions of the teeth are made, this serves as a model from which crowns, pontic, and the bridge will be created in the dental lab. The dentist will form a temporary bridge for the patient to use to protect the exposed gap and gums pending the time the permanent bridge would be completed.
When the patient visits the dentist for the second time, the temporary bridge would be removed and the new metal or porcelain bridge would be fitted to check and adjusted properly as necessary to get a perfect fit. Sometimes, a patient may be required to visit the dentist frequently to check how well fitted the metal framework is. However, this depends on the individual case. For instance, if the dental bridge would be a fixed bridge, it may at first be temporarily cemented in place for some weeks to see how it works and to ensure that it fits properly. And if it is confirmed that the dental bridge is working properly, the dentist can then permanently cement it into place.
How Much Does Fixing a Dental Bridge Cost?
Fixing a dental bridge comes with varying costs. These costs vary according to the following: the type of dental bridge the patient chose, the state or part of the country where the dental bridge procedure would be carried out. If you have a dental insurance, your dental insurance should pay a certain percentage of the cost according to the dental plan you have with them.
Does A Dental Bridges Last Forever?
Actually, the dental bridges cannot last forever. However, they can last about 5 to 15 years or more. They last longer with good oral health and going for a regular dental checkup. Normally a well done fixed dental bridge should have a lifespan above 10 years.
Are There Any Difficulties Eating with A Dental Bridge?
One of the actual reason for replacing missing teeth by having a dental bridge fixed is to make eating easier. So, it shouldn’t cause more difficulties while eating. However, the dental bridge may look like a new addition to your mouth, it is, therefore, advisable to eat soft foods and foods cut into smaller bits until you get used to the dental bridge.
Can The Dental Bridge Change the Way I Speak?
Actually No, the dental bridge would not change the way you speak. It’s only when the teeth are missing that you may not be able to speak clearly. But, once the dental bridges are fixed with the artificial teeth in their proper shape, position, and relationship, then you would be able to speak clearly and properly.
Care for The Dental Bridge?
Just like the remaining teeth, the dental bridge must also be given good oral care. Since the success of the dental bridge, irrespective of the type of dental bridge chosen is very much dependent on the solid foundation provided by the adjacent teeth, it is, therefore, important to keep the surrounding teeth strong and healthy and strong by giving adequate dental care.
Dental care involves brushing the teeth at least twice daily, flossing daily, and using any good antibacterial or antiseptic mouthwash every day. This will help to prevent any gum disease or tooth decay that may lead to tooth loss. You can ask your dentist to demonstrate to you how to properly brush and floss your teeth. More so, keep a regular dental cleaning schedule with your dentist, this will help to quickly diagnose any dental problems at an early stage. Also, it is important to eat a balanced diet for proper nutrition.