Dental bridges are just like architectural bridges. They are used for bridging the gap created by one or more missing teeth.
What are Bridges?
A bridge also called a false tooth, is a fixed appliance which gains support from the neighbouring abutment teeth and is used for replacing one or more missing natural teeth. The pontic or the false teeth are made from tooth coloured porcelain which perfectly blends with the existing natural teeth. Unlike the dentures, a bridge remains fixed to the teeth and offer superior chewing efficiency, aesthetics and durability.
Who Can Benefit from Dental Bridges?
A dental bridge is one of the best options for replacing teeth in case of the following situations:
- Single Missing Tooth – a bridge can be used to replace a single missing tooth by resting on healthy natural teeth on both sides of the gap.
- Multiple Missing Teeth – depending on the type, a bridge can also be used for replacing up to 3 or 4 missing teeth.
- Replacing Old Dentures – if you are not satisfied with the fit or aesthetics of your dentures, you can always get them replaced with fixed bridges.
- Restoring Smile – if you have missing teeth which are affecting your smile, then a bridge is one of the best options for restoring your facial aesthetics and dental function.
What are the Types?
Four different bridge types are used by dentists for tooth replacement.
- Traditional – in this prosthesis, one or false teeth are attached to dental crowns. These crowns are then cemented to the supporting teeth on both sides of the gap. The traditional bridge is the most popular and commonly used type for tooth replacement. However, it can be only used if there are healthy abutment teeth present on either side of the missing tooth gap.
- Cantilever – this type of bridge is only supported by one abutment tooth. Therefore, it is not as strong as the tradition bridge and is only used for replacing front teeth which do not receive heavy biting forces.
- Maryland – this prosthesis requires two abutment teeth for support. However, unlike the traditional bridges which contain crowns, the Maryland bridges have extensions made of a metallic mesh which is bonded to the inner surface of the supporting teeth. In this way, there is no or minimal need for removing the natural tooth structure.
- Implant-supported – Unlike other types, these bridges are supported by dental implants instead of natural teeth. Generally, one implant can be used for replacing up to 2 or 3 missing teeth.An implant-supported bridge is the most reliable type and durable among all types.
How is a Bridge Made?
The process for tooth replacement with bridges is simple and straightforward.
- Consultation – First, your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth to ascertain whether you are an ideal candidate for getting your teeth replaced with a bridge. Your dentist will also examine your study models and x-ray images to determine the type of bridge which best suits your dental and aesthetic needs.
- Tooth Preparation – in the next appointment, your dentist will remove a thin layer of outer enamel from the supporting teeth to create rooms for the attachment of crowns. However, this step is not required in the case of Maryland and Implant-supported bridge. Once this is done, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth, and together with the information regarding the type of bridge required and the desired shade of your teeth, send it to the dental laboratory for fabrication.
- Attachment – during the next appointment, your dentist will first try the prepared bridge on your teeth without bonding. Once you and your dentist are happy with the fit and aesthetics, the bridge will be permanently bonded to the abutment teeth by using an adhesive.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages?
|Superior chewing and speech functionality
|Require sacrifice of natural tooth structure
|More costly than dentures
|Chances of development of secondary
|Don’t require frequent repair or
Like all other types of tooth replacement, dental bridges also have their own merits and demerits:
How Much It Cost?
Bridge cost depends on various factors:
- The location of the tooth or teeth to replace.
- The number of teeth must be replaced.
- The material used such as resin, porcelain or zirconia
- Any additional dental treatment required before initiating the procedure
Traditional and Maryland Bridge cost between NZ $3000-7000 for a pontic, and a crown for each supporting tooth.
Maryland Bridge can cost you around NZ $2000- 4000 per pontic and a crown for each abutment.
Implant-Supported Denture this prosthesis can cost you around NZ $ 7000-20000 with two implants on each side, depending on the number, location and the material used for preparing the false teeth.
How Long Does It Last?
A bridge is a reliable and durable appliance. With proper care, you can expect to last for up to 15 years. Maintaining oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly will go a long way in improving the clinical life of your false teeth.
What is the Best Dental Bridge for Front Teeth?
Since front teeth are visible whenever you speak or smile, a bridge which requires minimal or less tooth preparation, such as a Maryland or Cantilever bridge may be suitable. You can also benefit from an implant-supported bridge for replacing front teeth. Your dentist is the best person to recommend a prosthesis which best suits your dental functional and cosmetic needs.
Dental Bridge Vs Implant
Both are fixed tooth replacement options. However, unlike the bridges which gain support from neighbouring teeth, an implant is inserted into the jaw bone just like a natural tooth. Therefore, an implant offers the highest speech and eating efficiency among all options for replacing missing teeth. Also, while a bridge can last for up to 15 years, dental implants, if placed correctly, can last for a lifetime. In terms of cost, tooth replacement with implants is more costly than a bridge or a denture.
A dental bridge is one of the most durable and aesthetically pleasant options for replacing missing teeth. If you cannot afford treatment with dental implants, then dental bridges should be your first choice.
You can find more information about other alternatives to missing teeth on our homepage.