Dental Bridge – Replacing Missing Teeth

What Is A Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a false tooth attached to crowns on either side of a gap to replace a missing tooth.  A bridge consists of two crowns on the neighboring teeth with a false tooth, called a pontic, between them which bridges the gap.  A bridge can be used on natural teeth or it can be attached to an implant.  You therefore only need to have two implant screws to support a three-unit bridge.

Dental Bridge Procedure

The procedure for getting a dental bridge made is almost the same as for a crown.  The only difference is that the procedure will take a little longer as two teeth need to be drilled instead of just one.

What Is A Cantilever Bridge?

A cantilever bridge uses two teeth on one side of the gap with a pontic attached to the end of it.  Cantilever bridges are used when there are only healthy teeth that are strong enough on one side of the gap.

What Is a Maryland Bridge?

A Maryland bridge is a pontic with two wings attached which are cemented (glued) to the back of the teeth on either side.  This type of bridge is a far more conservative way to replace a missing tooth as only minimal drilling needs done on the natural teeth.  Maryland bridges are not as strong as normal dental bridges and can only be used on front teeth where there is less pressure from biting.

How Do I Take Care Of A Dental Bridge?

You can brush your bridge twice a day just as you would the rest of your teeth, but you will need to clean under the false tooth as well.  As a dental bridge is permanently cemented into your mouth, it will need to be cleaned using Super Floss as it can’t be done with normal floss.  Super Floss has a stiff end attached to a fluffy piece, with a normal piece of floss on the other end.  The stiff end needs to be threaded under the false tooth and pulled through to the fluffy part.  This fluffy part can be swept under the pontic to clean the area between the bridge and your gums.  The gaps on either side of the bridge can be cleaned using normal floss.

Problems With Dental Bridges

The same problems that occur with crowns can also occur with bridges.  The major problem with a bridge is if anything happens to the teeth supporting it, it can compromise the whole bridge.  For example, if the root in one of the teeth splits you will lose that tooth as well as the false tooth and the other tooth will require a new crown.

Dental Bridge vs Implant

The main advantage of an implant over a dental bridge is that an implant is free-standing and does not rely on other teeth to support it.  In order to get a bridge, the supporting teeth will need to file back to make space for it which weakens them.  If the teeth do not already have fillings in them it is a shame to file them down for no reason.

Implants are much easier to clean as you can floss them just like your other teeth and not use Super Floss, which can be very tricky for some.  In the short term, a bridge appeals to many as it seems like the cheaper option.  But as bridges sometimes only last 10 years or so, you need to consider how much going the bridge route will cost you long term in comparison to getting an implant.