Dental Bridge and 4 Types of Dental Bridge

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What is a dental bridge?

Dental bridges are prosthetic devices used to replace one or more missing teeth. They consist of an artificial tooth, known as a pontic, that is held in place by dental crowns or implants on either side of the gap.

The process of placing a dental bridge typically involves multiple steps. First, the dentist will prepare the surrounding teeth by filing down the enamel to create space for the crowns that will support the bridge. This step may require local anesthesia to ensure a comfortable procedure.

After preparing the teeth, impressions or digital scans of the mouth are taken to create a custom-made bridge that fits precisely in the gap and blends seamlessly with the natural teeth. The bridge can be made from various materials, each with its own characteristics and strengths.

Metal alloys, such as gold or silver, are known for their strength and durability, making them suitable for posterior teeth that endure high biting forces. Porcelain-fused-to-metal bridges combine the strength of metal with the aesthetics of tooth-colored porcelain. They provide a natural appearance while offering good strength.

For those seeking optimal aesthetics, all-ceramic or all-porcelain bridges are popular choices. These bridges can closely mimic the natural color and translucency of teeth, making them ideal for replacing front teeth. They are highly biocompatible and do not cause allergic reactions in most individuals.

Titanium dental implants may be used to support the bridge in cases where multiple teeth are missing. Implants are surgically placed into the jawbone, providing a stable foundation for the bridge. This option is suitable for patients with healthy bone structure and good oral health.

The selection of materials for the dental bridge depends on various factors, including the location of the missing teeth, the patient’s oral health, aesthetic preferences, and budget. It is essential to consult with a dentist to determine the most appropriate material for your specific case.

Overall, dental bridges offer an effective solution for replacing missing teeth, restoring function, and improving the appearance of the smile. Dentists carefully consider the individual needs of each patient to provide a customized treatment plan that achieves optimal results.

Dental bridge vs Dental implant

Dental bridges are a type of prosthetic appliance used to repair one or more lost teeth. They are frequently made of metal, such as gold, silver, ceramic, or porcelain. Dental bridges are attached to the teeth or an implant that covers the empty space, and they can only be removed by a dentist. This is unlike removable prosthetic devices like dentures.

The component of a dental implant used to hold a bridge is referred to as the abutment. Abutments serve as anchor points for the bridge. The pontic, which functions as a replacement tooth, is then attached to the bridge that covers the abutments. If a dental implant is not used, a dental bridge is generally connected by first polishing the surfaces of the teeth to prepare them for the bridgework.

dental bridge
Dental bridge structure

Dental bridges can be categorized into three main types: traditional bridges, resin-bonded bridges, and cantilever bridges. Each type has its own unique characteristics and is suitable for specific dental situations.

  1. Traditional bridges: Traditional bridges are the most common type of dental bridge. They consist of one or more artificial teeth, called pontics, which are held in place by dental crowns on either side. The crowns are typically made of porcelain fused to metal or ceramic materials. This type of bridge provides excellent stability and durability, making it suitable for replacing missing teeth in various areas of the mouth.
  2. Resin-bonded bridges: Also known as Maryland bridges or adhesive bridges, resin-bonded bridges are commonly used to replace front teeth. These bridges are made of a pontic tooth attached to metal or ceramic wings on the backside. The wings are bonded to the adjacent natural teeth using a resin cement. Resin-bonded bridges are a conservative option as they require minimal alteration of the adjacent teeth. However, they may not be as strong or long-lasting as traditional bridges.
  3. Cantilever bridges: Cantilever bridges are used when there is only one natural tooth adjacent to the missing tooth space. The pontic tooth is supported by a dental crown that is cemented onto the adjacent tooth. This type of bridge is less common and is typically used in specific cases where there is no option for a traditional bridge or dental implant.
Dental Implant vs Dental Bridge
What does a dental bridge cost? Which is the less painful bridge or implant? What is better: a bridge or implant?

Dental porcelain is a powerful form of bridge that, like strong, natural teeth, can survive whatever you consume. Furthermore, porcelain possesses a whiteness similar to that of glass, which reflects light and provides the appearance of true tooth enamel. Because of its endurance, porcelain dental bridges are an excellent prosthesis. Porcelain dental bridges are a simple and effective way to restore missing teeth.

Although it is widely assumed that utilizing porcelain bridges is risk-free, there are certain potential dangers to be aware of. Make an appointment with your cosmetic dentist and learn about the safety precautions for the specific dental bridge surgery you are considering.

See more: Zirconia Bridge and 5 Tips Should Know

See more: Tooth loss: Causes and 3 ways for seniors to prevent tooth loss

Dental bridge types

There are four main types of dental bridges:

  • Traditional
  • Cantilever
  • Maryland
  • Implant-supported

Traditional dental bridge

A typical dental bridge is made up of dental crowns glued to each of the abutment teeth, which hold a fake tooth or teeth in place. A conventional bridge is the most popular type of dental bridge, and it can be used when you still have strong teeth on either side of the gap caused by your missing tooth.

 

Dental Implant vs Dental Bridge
What does a dental bridge cost? Which is the less painful bridge or implant? What is better: a bridge or implant?

Cantilever dental bridge

Cantilever dental bridges are similar to traditional bridges in that just one abutment tooth serves as the anchor for the pontic, which is secured in place by a dental crown. You just need one healthy tooth next to the gap left by the lost tooth to support a cantilever bridge.

Cantilever
What does a dental bridge cost? Which is the less painful bridge or implant? What is better: a bridge or implant?

Maryland dental bridge

Maryland dental bridges, like traditional bridges, employ two healthy teeth as abutment teeth, one on each side of the gap. In contrast to a traditional bridge, which uses dental crowns on the abutment teeth, a Maryland bridge uses a metal or porcelain framework that is bonded to the backs of the abutment teeth.

A Maryland bridge may only be utilized, like a standard bridge, if there is a natural tooth on either side of the gap left by the lost tooth or teeth.

Maryland
What does a dental bridge cost? Which is the less painful bridge or implant? What is better: a bridge or implant?

Implant-supported dental bridge

Implant-supported bridges, as the name implies, are supported by dental implants rather than frames or crowns. For each missing tooth, one implant is normally surgically implanted, and this implant keeps the bridge in place. If one implant for each missing tooth is not viable, a pontic may be attached between two implant-supported crowns.

An implant-supported bridge, which is considered the strongest and most stable instrument, frequently necessitates two operations:

  • One to insert the implants in the jawbone
  • A second surgery to place the bridge

The entire process may take many months to complete.

What does a dental bridge cost? Which is the less painful bridge or implant? What is better: a bridge or implant?

What does a dental bridge cost?

There are several factor that can decide the price including:

  • Number of teeth needed to fill the gap
  • Materials used, such as composite resin, zirconia, or metal
  • Difficulty of the placement
  • Additional treatments 
  • Geographic location

The price also changes depending on the bridge type you choose:

  • One pontic and a crown for each abutment tooth are commonly included in traditional or cantilever bridge prices ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
  • Maryland bridges generally range in price from $1,500 to $2,500 for a single pontic with the wings linked to the abutment teeth.
  • An implant-supported bridge could cost $5,000 – $15,000 for a bridge with two dental implants spanning three or four teeth.

Q&A

What is better: a bridge or implant?

When considering tooth replacement options, it’s important to take into account financial considerations and overall health. Dental bridges often have the advantage of being more likely to be covered by dental insurance, making them a more affordable choice for some individuals. Additionally, the initial investment for dental bridges is generally lower compared to dental implants.

However, if budget constraints are not a major concern and the individual’s overall health is good, dental implants may be a preferred option. Dental implants offer several advantages, including their long-lasting nature and the fact that they don’t rely on adjacent teeth for support. Unlike dental bridges, implants are inserted directly into the jawbone, which provides stability and helps to prevent bone loss in the area.

Another significant benefit of dental implants is that they do not impact the surrounding teeth. With dental bridges, healthy adjacent teeth need to be prepared and crowned to support the bridge, which can affect their structure and potentially lead to future issues. Dental implants, on the other hand, are standalone replacements that mimic the function and appearance of natural teeth without compromising the neighboring teeth.

Ultimately, the decision between dental bridges and implants depends on individual circumstances, such as the patient’s oral health, financial situation, and personal preferences. Consulting with a dentist or prosthodontist is crucial in order to assess the specific needs and determine the most suitable option for long-term tooth replacement.

Why is a bridge not recommended?

While dental bridges offer certain benefits, there are some limitations to consider. One important aspect is that bridges are placed above the gum line and do not stimulate the underlying jawbone like dental implants do. As a result, the jawbone in the area of the missing tooth may continue to degenerate over time, which can affect the overall facial structure and stability of adjacent teeth.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that bridges are not considered a permanent solution. With proper care and maintenance, a dental bridge can last for an average of 10 to 15 years. However, they may require replacement or repair over time, especially as the supporting teeth may experience wear and tear. On the other hand, dental implants are designed to be a long-term solution and can last for more than 25 years with proper care.

Ultimately, the choice between a dental bridge and implant depends on various factors, including the patient’s oral health, bone structure, aesthetic preferences, and budget. Consulting with a dentist or prosthodontist is essential to determine the most suitable option for replacing missing teeth, taking into account both short-term and long-term considerations.

Which is the less painful bridge or implant?

Using a dental bridge offers several advantages. One of the main benefits is that it is a non-surgical procedure, unlike dental implants, which require surgical placement. As a result, getting a dental bridge is generally less painful and invasive than undergoing implant surgery. The absence of surgical procedures also means a quicker and more straightforward process for obtaining a dental bridge.

Additionally, the turnaround time for getting a dental bridge is relatively fast. Unlike implants that may require multiple visits and a healing period between the implant placement and crown attachment, a dental bridge can often be completed in a shorter timeframe. The process typically involves preparing the abutment teeth, taking impressions, and fabricating the bridge in a dental laboratory. Once the bridge is ready, it can be efficiently bonded or cemented into place by the dentist.

These advantages make dental bridges an appealing option for individuals who prefer a less invasive and faster solution for replacing missing teeth. However, it is important to consult with a dentist to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on individual circumstances, oral health, and desired outcomes.

Why does a doctor prefer bridge over implant?

In situations where there are two adjacent damaged teeth alongside a missing tooth, a dental bridge may be a preferred treatment option over a dental implant. This is because the two damaged teeth can serve as abutment teeth, providing additional support for the bridge. By placing dental crowns on these teeth, their stability and strength can be enhanced, allowing them to anchor the bridge securely in place.

Furthermore, dental bridges offer the advantage of being more versatile in terms of altering the color or appearance of multiple teeth. If the adjacent teeth require cosmetic improvements, such as teeth whitening or reshaping, the bridge can be designed to match the desired aesthetic outcome. This can be achieved by using materials that can be color-matched to the natural teeth, ensuring a seamless and harmonious smile.

From a cost perspective, dental bridges can also be a more affordable option compared to dental implants, especially when multiple adjacent teeth need to be restored. The process of placing a bridge is generally less complex and time-consuming than that of dental implants, which involves surgical placement of individual implants for each missing tooth.

What is the disadvantage of bridge?

During the preparation process for a bridge, the abutment teeth, which serve as support for the bridge, are shaped and reduced to accommodate the dental crowns that will hold the bridge in place. This involves removing a portion of the enamel from the abutment teeth.

If the abutment teeth are already weakened due to decay or other dental issues, the reduction of enamel during the preparation can further compromise their strength. Weakened abutment teeth may not be able to provide adequate support for the dental bridge, leading to potential complications.

When a bridge does not fit properly, gaps or spaces can develop between the abutment teeth and the bridge. These gaps create areas where plaque and bacteria can accumulate, increasing the risk of tooth decay. If left untreated, tooth decay can progress and further weaken the abutment teeth, eventually causing the restoration to fail.

To minimize the risk of tooth decay and ensure a proper fit, it is crucial to maintain good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups. Your dentist will carefully evaluate the health of your abutment teeth before proceeding with bridge preparation. In cases where the abutment teeth are weak or compromised, alternative treatment options such as dental implants may be recommended to ensure long-term stability and oral health.

Do bridges weaken teeth?

The placement of traditional bridges may involve the shaving down and capping of healthy teeth adjacent to the missing tooth space. This process involves removing a portion of the healthy tooth enamel to create space for the dental crowns that support the bridge. While the crowns provide stability for the bridge, the removal of enamel can weaken the natural teeth that are being prepared for the crowns.

It is important to note that the extent of enamel removal depends on the specific case and the type of bridge being placed. Your dentist will carefully evaluate your oral health and make necessary preparations to minimize the impact on the healthy teeth.

While some enamel loss is inevitable with traditional bridges, the overall effect on tooth strength can vary. In some cases, the reduction in enamel may compromise the long-term structural integrity of the natural teeth, increasing the risk of future damage or decay. However, when properly done by an experienced dentist, the impact on tooth strength can be minimized.

It’s essential to discuss the potential risks and benefits of dental bridges with your dentist. They can assess your individual situation and recommend the most suitable treatment option for restoring your missing teeth while preserving the health and integrity of your natural teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are also crucial in preventing complications and ensuring the long-term success of any dental restoration.

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