Got a missing tooth? You’re probably looking for ways to replace it. Based on your unique oral condition, your dentist can guide you to the procedure that will be most effective for you.
One choice you may have is to get a dental bridge. Bridges can enhance the look of your teeth and get your mouth feeling like it used to. Just like its name suggests, it “bridges” the gap where your tooth is missing using two adjacent teeth or dental implants to support the false tooth.
In this blog post, we’ll go over what dental bridges are, how they can benefit you and ultimately – how long they last!
What Can A Dental Bridge Do For Me?
Dental bridges are useful in addressing a variety of oral conditions. They serve both a cosmetic and medical purpose in restoring the beauty of your smile. Once your bridge is installed, you can expect to regain the normal functionality of your teeth.
Overall, patients who receive dental bridges experience these benefits:
- A more attractive smile
- Their face shape remains intact
- Ability to chew and speak normally is restored
- A corrected bite
- Other teeth are saved from drifting from their original places
- Gaps between teeth are aptly concealed
The Basics of Dental bridges
Dental bridges are false teeth that are usually located between two “anchors”- These anchors are like the two posts at the ends of a bridge that support it. The traditional model for a dental bridge involves two or more crowns which are placed over two abutments. These abutments can either be real teeth that are shaved down to receive the prosthesis or they can be dental implants.
The teeth placed between the anchors are called pontics. It is a word derived from the Latin “pons” which means “bridge.”
Getting A Dental Bridge – Procedure
Getting a bridge will require a couple of dental visits until it is completed. During the first visit, the abutment teeth are prepared. Your dentist will need to remove a portion of your tooth to give room for a crown to be placed on top of them.
Afterwards, your dentist will be able to recontour the abutment teeth.
Once that is done, you will be able to see the impressions of the teeth. Your dentist will provide you with a temporary bridge to protect the exposed teeth and gums while the bridge is being made.
Your next visit is when the bridge will be installed. After the temporary bridge is removed, the new bridge will be checked and adjusted to ensure that it fits properly.
Your dental bridge can be made of different materials that vary in strength and quality. The material you use in your bridge will play a major role in how long it will last. Overall, your bridge’s crowns can be composed of porcelain, alloys, gold, or plastic.
Each material has its advantages and drawbacks. For example, zirconium alloys are tough while porcelain bridges are more sensitive to damage if you accidentally chew on hard foods. On the other hand, plastic bridges are the cheapest but they are not as durable as gold.
As you can see, there are a number of options that you can choose from. And the most suitable material for you will depend on your main priority. However, it is a general rule that the more you invest in your bridge, the longer it will last.
What Kind Of Dental Bridges Are There?
There are three types of bridges that you can choose from, each having a situation where it is useful:
These are the most popular type of bridges. A traditional bridge is composed of two crowns with a pontic between them bridging the gap, concealing the missing tooth. These are supported by abutments that are composed of either prepared adjacent teeth or dental implants.
This type of bridge is not very common anymore because of the possible damage it can do to your teeth over time. Cantilever bridges are supported by an anchor that is on just one side of the missing tooth. This can put pressure on the existing anchor that was not meant to bear the burden alone. Nevertheless, it does have its place and sometimes it is the only viable option.
These bridges are often called Maryland bridges. The pontic tooth is bonded to the backs of existing teeth by two metal bands. One advantage of this kind of bridge is that the adjacent teeth do not need to be shaved down into abutments to support the false tooth.
However, for these bridges to be successful, the dentist has to take into account your bite and chewing habits and they are not a great option for everyone.
How Long Will My Dental Bridge Last?
As with any dental treatments, getting dental bridges can be quite an investment. One of the biggest considerations you have might be whether dental bridges last long enough for them to be worth the cost.
The good news is that with proper at-home care and attending all your regularly scheduled check-ups, your dental bridge can last up to 15 years. There are different conclusions made by experts but the average length of time is between five to fifteen years.
Your bridge’s longevity will be based on the quality of material you have chosen as well as how diligently you take care of your bridge. For example, if you get a porcelain bridge, it is very likely to outlast a plastic bridge when the same home care regimen is applied. On the other hand, a plastic bridge that is cared for properly is more likely to hold up than a higher quality bridge that is never cleaned.
Also, if your bridge is supported by adjacent natural teeth that have been cut down as abutments, you can expect the lifespan of your bridge to be shorter compared to if you anchored your bridge to dental implants. Dental implants make better anchors and do not have the same tooth decay risks that shaved down teeth have.
Overall, the lifespan of your bridge will depend on the quality of materials you have chosen and how faithfully you adhere to your dentist’s guidelines for regular care.
Taking Care Of My Dental Bridge
Caring for dental bridges involves good general oral care, specialized care and regular professional cleaning. If you follow a combination of these cleaning habits, your bridge lifespan will be increased.
On top of brushing your teeth at least twice a day, you also should not skip flossing. The thing is, flossing only takes care of the bridge’s outside. In the case of where food is trapped underneath, it might lead to tooth decay.
It is recommended to use a floss threader to carry floss under the bridge to remove any trapped food. It is also advised that you get dental bridge cleaning by an oral health care professional every six months.
If you have any further questions about dental bridges or about any other oral care procedure, feel free to contact us.