Understanding Dental Bridges
A dental bridge is an appliance that replaces one or more missing or broken teeth with fake teeth that are called ‘pontics’. To hold the pontics in place, the bridge uses one or more real teeth on either side of the gap to serve as anchors. Bridges can be removable, meaning the wearer can take them off when necessary, or they can be permanent or fixed.
What is the purpose of bridges?
Since a bridge replaces missing teeth, it brings back the look and function of real teeth. It restores the person’s ability to smile confidently, eat and speak properly, and have self confidence. Missing teeth can also affect a person’s bite, can cause neighboring teeth to drift or move into the spaces, or ‘elongate’ if there is no opposing teeth. It can also cause some degree of bone resorption where the gaps are.
You can lose a tooth or two in different ways and use a bridge in their stead. You may need a bridge if a tooth is so badly decayed that it falls out or is extracted, a damaged tooth due to accident or injury, a tooth that cannot be saved by fillings or root canal. For some patients, a permanent dental implant is an alternative to a bridge. For others, particularly if many teeth are missing, dentists recommend implants to help secure a bridge.
Types of Bridges
A traditional bridge involves two crowns – called abutments. They anchor the fake tooth or teeth to real teeth. This is the most popular type of bridge, and it can be fixed or removable. A cantilever bridge requires only one crown for support. It’s a good option for patients who do not want to damage healthy teeth. Maryland bridges are more conservative and less invasive than traditional or cantilever bridges.
The bridge is anchored by metal or porcelain frameworks attached to the backs of teeth on either side of the gap. These bridges can preserve healthy teeth, but they are less secure. Then there’s the more invasive, expensive but more secure implant-supported bridges, that use dental implants as anchors.
In our next blog, let’s talk about what to expect when you choose to have a bridge, and a few complications that go with it.
Bridging the Gap in Bellingham
If you have a tooth or two missing, make an appointment with us at Tetrick Family Dentistry and let’s talk about options.