A dental bridge does just what its name implies, it bridges gaps between teeth. This long-term solution can restore your smile, chewing ability, and speech; maintain your face shape; and prevent your other teeth from sliding into the empty area. Allow Lincoln Smiles to explain bridges in a bit more detail, including their purpose, the different types, potential benefits and drawbacks, and what you can expect during placement, to help you decide if a bridge might be right for you.
What Is A Bridge?
A bridge can be used to close the gap where one or more teeth are missing. The location of the area needing work as well as the extent of the damage both play a role in determining which type of bridge is best for you.
Most commonly used are traditional bridges, which require healthy teeth on either side of the gap, but can be used to gap several missing teeth. These healthy teeth are called the anchor teeth, or abutment teeth, and can be either natural teeth or dental implants. Crowns for the anchor teeth are attached to a false tooth, referred to as a pontic, and are then positioned over the area and cemented in place.
Another type of dental bridge is a Maryland bridge, similar to the traditional bridge, but with some very distinct differences. The Maryland style uses a false tooth with small metal wings on one or both sides rather than crowns. The wings are bonded to the backs of the abutment teeth. Also, Maryland bridges do not require the removal of enamel as does its traditional counterpart.
If there is only one sound tooth next to the gap, a cantilever bridge can be used. However, this type is used infrequently as it places much pressure on the abutment tooth.
What Can I Expect During Bridge Placement?
The process to place a bridge generally takes multiple visits. The first visit consists of preparing the area for treatment. If using a traditional bridge, we will reshape the anchor teeth by removing some of the enamel, which allows room to place crowns over them. With the use of a Maryland bridge, we will lightly etch the back of the back of your teeth to which the wings will be attached.
Next, an impression of that part of your mouth is made and then used to design a bridge specific to your shape. We may put a temporary bridge in place while the permanent one is being created.
On the second visit, the temporary bridge is removed and the new one is placed. We will adjust it as necessary to ensure proper fit before cementing or bonding it in place. With a Maryland bridge, we will apply a bonding resin to the back of the abutment teeth and then use a light to cure it and secure it in place. Multiple visits are sometimes required before permanently attaching the bridge to ensure proper fit and maximum comfort.
Bridges generally last about 10 years, although how well you care for them can significantly extend or reduce their lifespan. Be sure to practice good oral hygiene; brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Also, attend regular dental examinations and let us know right away if something doesn’t feel right.
Dental bridges can be a great solution to wanting a nicer smile and a healthier mouth. If you think a dental bridge might be right for you, Lincoln Smiles wants to help. Call us at 916-543-8800 today to schedule an appointment.