Unfortunately, according to the American Academy of Prosthodontics, nearly 180 million Americans have lost at least one tooth to decay, gum disease, or another form of dental damage. If you suffer from one or more missing teeth, a dental bridge is a multi-tooth prosthesis that can help fill the gaps in your mouth for a more complete, healthy, beautiful smile. At the Dental Associates of New England, our experienced practitioners can create and place a variety of bridges, including those anchored by advanced dental implants, to help you reclaim your oral health. We offer numerous dental bridge types at our Boston practice so that we can choose the type that will suit your needs and preferences. Read on to learn more and find out which restorative option might work for you.
The conventional dental bridge consists of three main components: a prostheses that takes the place of one or more missing adjacent teeth, along with two dental crowns placed over healthy teeth on either side. The crowns, also called abutments, hold the artificial tooth or teeth in a secure position to “bridge” the space left in the gums. Traditional bridges are commonly used since they are stable, aesthetic, and durable. However, traditional bridges require otherwise healthy teeth to be “shaped,” meaning that one of our dentists will need to remove a small amount of enamel so that the crowns can fit comfortably and snugly over them. Some patients do not have healthy enough teeth to support this modification or would rather not remove healthy enamel.
Cantilever bridges are similar to traditional bridges, except that they have only one abutment crown. This arrangement requires less enamel preparation for the healthy tooth, but cantilever bridges are typically less durable and secure, since they put undue pressure on the single anchor tooth. We do not recommend placing these types of prostheses on the back molars, since these teeth already must bear a greater amount of force to chew food. Cantilever bridges are relatively rare, but they may be appropriate for certain patients.
Named for the University of Maryland dental team that designed them, Maryland bonded bridges consist of one or more artificial teeth attached to metal or resin “wings” on either side. To place this type of bridge, our dentists will simply etch the healthy teeth on either side of the prosthesis and then attach the wing pieces to this roughened surface with strong bonding cement. Since they lack the surface area and resulting stability of traditional bridges, we typically recommend Maryland bonded bridges as replacements for single teeth rather than multiple neighboring teeth.
Most bridges are fixed, meaning that they remain in place all the time. However, in some cases, we can also fill the gaps left by missing teeth with partial dentures. These are artificial sets of teeth and gums that attach to the gums via suction and small clips on either side. Like traditional dentures, these removable bridges must be taken out at night for cleaning and may shift during speech or eating. Partial dentures are the most affordable option and can restore the basic function of a patient’s mouth.
Our dentists often recommend implant-supported bridges to patients with gaps in their smiles. These work similarly to traditional bridges, except the bridge is secured to dental implants, which are placed in the jawbone. To provide implant-supported bridges, our dentists will insert two small titanium posts into your jawbone beneath the gum line. Over the following months, these posts will integrate with your existing bone tissue, effectively replacing the missing teeth’s roots. Once you have healed, we will attach a multiple tooth-prosthesis to your dental implants. Many patients prefer implant-supported bridges because they are attractive, feel like natural teeth, can last for more than 20 years, and help prevent jawbone loss. However, implant-supported bridges require surgery and can be more expensive than other types of bridges.
To find out more about the types of dental bridges we offer or discover which one could help you complete your smile, contact our dental practice today to schedule a consultation.