People can lose teeth for a number of reasons. Tooth loss may bring about various complications, including the inability to chew food, loss of the jawbone, and gum problems. Your dentist may use one of many methods available to close the space left by the lost tooth. A dental bridge is one method, which uses a false tooth, referred to as pontic. The tooth is held in place using an abutment on either side of the gap. Pontics can be made with various materials, including gold, porcelain, and composite materials that are designed to look like the rest of the patient’s teeth.
Dental bridges can improve how you chew and eat your food; however, you may have to cut soft foods into small pieces until you get accustomed to them. Bridges can also help you speak clearly and properly.
Types of dental bridges
There are four types of dental bridges commonly used:
Cantilever dental bridge
A cantilever is a dental bridge that is held in its right place using a single abutment tooth. This type of bridge is ideal for patients with a single natural tooth next to the gap.
This bridge consists of a false tooth (or several teeth) held in place by crowns that are affixed to both sides of the false tooth. This bridge is the most popular type, and is normally used by patients who have lost a single tooth between two natural teeth.
Maryland dental bridge
A Maryland bridge is similar to a traditional bridge, in that it employs two abutment teeth to hold the false teeth in place. However, unlike false teeth that use crowns, a Maryland bridge uses porcelain or metal framework, bonded at the back of the abutment teeth. Patients can use this bridge only if they have a natural tooth on either side of the bridge.
Dental bridge supported by an implant
Another option is to have a dental implant surgically placed in the space left by the missing tooth. The implant, made of metal, then holds the bridge in place. If you have several missing teeth, your dentist may use a traditional bridge between two implant-supported crowns to reduce the number of implants placed. This is the most stable bridge system, but takes longer to complete due to the healing time required for the implants.
How long does a bridge last?
You may have to replace a dental bridge every five to 15 years, depending on how well you take care of it. If you have an implant-supported bridge, the implants are permanent. However, it’s still important to practice proper oral hygiene to keep the implants and surrounding gums in good shape.