Missing teeth can cause a domino effect on dental health: the lost tooth root begins to disintegrate, allowing bone to shrink and remaining teeth to change position. An experienced restorative and cosmetic dentist in Columbia, Dr. Ray Becker offers dental bridges for tooth replacement.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a restoration that is used to “bridge” a gap between teeth. The bridgework is a series of prosthetic teeth linked together and supported by an anchor on either side of the gap. The Anchor that is supported on each side is by a natural tooth strengthened by a dental crown or a dental implant.
In some cases, Dr. Becker will recommend using dental implants to secure your dental bridge due to the long term benefits to both daily quality of life and oral health.
How Does a Dental Bridge Work?
A bridge can be supported in three ways:
- With a dental implant
- With neighboring natural teeth
- A combination of the two mentioned above
When the natural teeth are used to support the bridgework, a dental crown is typically placed to provide additional support and stability. A dental bridge can require up to three dental crowns.
Two of those crowns will be placed over healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth; these healthy teeth are referred to as abutment teeth. The two crowned abutment teeth become supports for a third crown placed in between them; that third crown is referred to as a Pontic.
If more than one tooth is missing, more crowns will be needed to bridge the gap between the abutment teeth.
The number of abutment teeth necessary to replace missing teeth is influenced by the number of missing teeth, the size, and length of the abutment tooth roots, the amount of bone support each abutment tooth has, as well as where in the mouth the missing tooth is located. For example, if you have three missing teeth, four abutment teeth may be necessary, thereby creating a seven-tooth bridge.
Engineering and designing of the bridge require an understanding of how to replace teeth, as well as the biology of the supporting gum and bone tissue.
Types of Dental Bridges
Removable Dental Bridge
A removable dental bridge may be suitable as a short term solution to maintain tooth position while preparing for a fixed dental bridge or dental implant. Columbia, MD dentist, Dr. Becker does not recommend removable dental bridges as a long term solution because they do not promote optimal health, esthetics or function.
Factors that could disqualify you as a candidate for implants include bone health, age, and location of missing teeth.
Fixed Dental Bridge
Also called a partial denture, a fixed dental bridge is a prosthetic tooth that is connected to two dental crowns which cover the teeth on either side of the gap. A disadvantage of this type of restoration is the stress it places on the natural teeth. If neighboring teeth are in good health, this type of dental bridge could put unneeded stress on the teeth, leading to premature wear or cavity formation.
Dental Implant Supported Dental Bridges
A fixed dental bridge supported by dental implants instead of natural teeth provides the most lifelike replacement for missing teeth. Columbia, MD dentist, Dr. Becker has extensive training and experience with dental implants procedures.
Implant supported dental bridges have a 35% higher success rate compared to traditional bridgework and they eliminate the need to degrade adjacent teeth. Additionally, dental implants promote continued bone growth, preventing both bone shrinkage and gum recession associated with traditional bridges and dentures.
If you choose dental implants to secure your bridge, a treatment plan for placing the implants will be coordinated along with the fabrication and placement of the bridge. This will involve a surgical implantation of the titanium post and the placement of a temporary bridge. After a 3 to 6 month healing period, you will return to our Columbia, MD area dentist office for the permanent placement of your custom bridge.
Dental Bridges vs. Dental Implants
If you have missing teeth, you are probably choosing between dental implants or a dental bridge.
Dr. Becker offers both options for replacing missing teeth and can help you determine which is best for you. While dental implants offer the most lifelike replacement for missing teeth, they are not for everyone. Things that could disqualify you as a candidate for implants include bone health, age, and location of missing teeth.
The cost of both restorations is another major difference between implants and bridges. In most cases, dental implants will cost considerably more upfront. However, they are also less likely to need costly maintenance or repairs that will accumulate over the years. Implants may be less expensive in the long term.
The time it takes to get your dental bridge is fairly quick when compared to getting dental implants. Implants are surgically placed in your jawbone and will need about three to six months to heal before the final dental bridge can be permanently attached to them. A bridge that will be connected to abutment teeth can be placed in a few weeks.
“Most recently he put in a permanent bridge.. it saved me a lot of time and money putting that in. The crowns are made of porcelain and he does them in one visit which is a real plus.”
Dental Bridge FAQs
Is the dental bridge process painful?
The process for getting a dental bridge is not as painful as you think. It is similar to getting a dental filling. Your anchor teeth (abutment teeth) will be prepared and your mouth will be measured for a precise fit. Your mouth will be numbed using a local anesthesia to prevent you from feeling pain and discomfort.
How long does a dental bridge last?
A dental bridge can last for about 30 years with excellent oral healthcare and routine visits to the dentist. It can last longer if maintained properly. There is no “required” maintenance for a dental bridge, but if given a little extra care, your bridge will last a while.
What if my old dental bridge hurts my teeth?
If your old bridge is causing you mouth or teeth pain, then it’s time to get a new modern dental bridge. Your mouth changes over time: teeth shift, gums recede, infections occur, etc. These changes can have a direct effect on the way your bridge fits.
Can I whiten a discolored dental bridge?
Not necessarily. A dental bridge is made of stain-resistant material that can’t usually be whitened with traditional teeth whitening procedures. It is even more difficult to whiten an older bridge at the end of its lifespan. Your best option is to replace the bridge with a new one.
Schedule a Dental Exam & Consultation Today
If you have missing teeth, we offer dental bridges in our Columbia, MD office. Schedule an appointment today with Dr. Becker at Howard County Smiles. We will discuss your oral health, concerns, and budget to see which missing teeth option is right for you.