When you visit Tandara Dental Centre with a failing tooth, we always try hard to save it. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible.
You can lose teeth because of infection, decay, gum disease or significant trauma that can crack a tooth or knock it out entirely. One option for replacing missing teeth is a dental bridge.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A bridge works by bridging the gap left by one or more missing teeth originally side by side. It is supported by the teeth on either side of the gap and looks and feels natural, strong and comfortable.
Why Do I Need a Dental Bridge?
Your teeth are meant to work together harmoniously, and losing any teeth disrupts this environment. Changes can include:
- Adjacent teeth beginning to drift out of place, destabilising them and creating unwanted gaps between other teeth.
- Teeth that are opposing the gap moving towards the space, affecting your bite.
- Biting and chewing food thoroughly becomes trickier.
- The remaining teeth come under increased stresses when chewing and can wear faster.
- Your facial structure can change, as your teeth help support your facial muscles.
- Speaking clearly may be more difficult.
Restoring missing teeth prevents these unwanted side effects and restores your smile.
Dental Bridge Structure – How is a Bridge Fabricated?
A bridge has dental crowns fitted over the teeth on each side of the gap, called abutment teeth. The dental crowns are attached to a pontic, replacing your natural tooth. Pontics are shaped to look like real teeth and sit on your gums.
What are the Different Types of Dental Bridges?
There are four main types of dental bridge which are:
- A conventional dental bridge –abutment teeth on either side of the gap support the pontic.
- Cantilever bridge – held in place with just one abutment tooth on one side of the bridge.
- Maryland dental bridge – uses metal or ceramic ‘wings’ instead of crowns for support on abutment teeth on either side of the gap. The wings are cemented onto the inner surfaces of the abutment teeth, so they are less visible.
- An implant-supported dental bridge is supported by a dental implant on either side instead of natural teeth.
People often ask about a dental flipper, but this is not a bridge. It is a removable one-tooth denture that, although cheap, is only suitable as a temporary prosthesis after tooth removal and before a permanent solution is found.
How Do I Choose the Best Type of Dental Bridge for Me?
When you visit Tandara Dental Centre, we will suggest the best bridge for your needs, depending on the location of the gap and the condition of your remaining natural teeth.
If you have strong abutment teeth on each side, we might recommend a conventional bridge.
Cantilever bridges are best used in specific circumstances where teeth are not used for chewing, such as replacing a tooth near the front of the mouth.
Maryland bridges replace front teeth, as the wings are only bonded onto the inner tooth surfaces and may become loose if they come under too much strain during eating. Implant-supported bridges are ideal when the abutment teeth are missing or not strong enough to support a bridge.
Dental Bridge Placement
Placing a dental bridge is very straightforward, and treatment is typically complete within a few weeks.
We will need to prepare your abutment teeth, removing some tooth material to create enough room for the supporting crowns. There is no need to worry, as we use local anaesthetic to ensure you are comfortable.
Next, we take a detailed dental impression of your mouth and select the best shade for your new bridge so it blends in beautifully with your natural teeth. Our dental lab makes the bridge to our exact specifications.
While you are waiting, we protect your prepared teeth with a temporary restoration so you can smile, talk and eat confidently. Once the bridge is ready, we try it in your mouth, ensuring it fits precisely.
You will approve its appearance before we bond it firmly in place and make any final adjustments to your bite. Before you leave, we will show you how to clean under your dental bridge thoroughly. Good oral hygiene will help your bridge last longer.
Once your teeth are prepared, they might feel a bit sensitive for a few days as they settle down, but there shouldn’t be any pain. Initially, your new bridge may feel a little strange, which is normal when you receive any new restoration.
These feelings should disappear within a few days, and dental bridge problems are rare. Your new bridge should soon feel as natural and as comfortable as your real teeth. Because it is firmly bonded in place, it cannot fall out.
What are the Main Benefits of a Dental Bridge?
The main benefits of a dental bridge include:
- Restoring your ability to eat comfortably
- Restoring your appearance
- Maintaining your facial structure
- Ensuring the biting forces are correctly distributed as you eat
- Preventing unwanted tooth movements
- Ensuring you can speak clearly
Is a Dental Bridge the Best Solution for You?
A dental bridge is ideal if the abutment teeth benefit from being covered with crowns, for example, if they have fillings or signs of decay, are heavily stained or not an ideal shape or size.
Another option is a dental implant consisting of a post inserted surgically into your jawbone, supporting an implant crown.
Dental Bridge vs Dental Implant
There are several key differences between a dental bridge and a dental implant, including:
- A dental bridge is supported by teeth on either side of the gap, whereas a dental implant is self-supporting.
- The abutment teeth are reshaped for a dental bridge, but no tooth modifications are needed for an implant.
- A dental implant replicates a real tooth root, protecting the jawbone and gums. A dental bridge does not have this effect.
- Dental implants cost more than a bridge but are long-lasting, and with the proper care, they can be more cost-effective in the long-term.
- A dental implant is a lengthier procedure than a dental bridge.
What is the Cost of a Dental Bridge?
A conventional dental bridge is at least three teeth. The dental bridge cost per tooth depends on the materials chosen. We can discuss your dental bridge cost and options available when you visit Tandara Dental Centre.
Which Materials are Used for Bridges?
Bridges can have a metal substructure covered with tooth coloured porcelain, but the most modern are all-ceramic, made from a strong tooth-coloured porcelain or zirconia material. All-ceramic bridges provide the best aesthetic results and are strong enough to be used anywhere in the mouth.
Can I Have a Bridge Fitted Immediately After Having a Tooth Removed?
While it is possible to fit a bridge immediately after removing a tooth, it can be best to wait until the empty socket heals, approximately 8-12 weeks. The gums are swollen initially and need time to recover. The jawbone changes shape during healing and could result in a gap underneath the pontic if a bridge is fitted too quickly.
What is the Pain Level During and After the Procedure?
Any discomfort should be minor and will not last long. It will take a few days for your prepared teeth to settle down, and you may experience some temporary tooth sensitivity.
How Long Do Bridges Last?
A dental bridge needs replacing after eight to ten years or so. It may last slightly longer with good oral care, including regular dental checkups and cleanings. As a bridge ages, there is a risk it could begin to let in infectious bacteria. We can check the condition of your bridge regularly, ensuring the teeth underneath the crowns remain healthy and free from infection.
Is It Difficult to Eat with a Dental Bridge?
Once you get used to your new bridge, eating should feel entirely comfortable.
Will a Dental Bridge Change How I Speak?
Any new dental restoration can initially affect speech, but this effect is temporary and disappears as you get used to the bridge.
A dental bridge is a good option for many people, giving you natural-looking teeth that make it easy to eat and talk confidently. During your initial consultation, we can discuss all the pros and cons of treatment, giving you all the information needed to take control of your dental health and make an informed decision.