Dental bridges offer a natural-looking, permanent solution to replace missing or damaged teeth. They are a more traditional alternative to dental implants. According to Colgate, dental bridges may be a better option than implants “if the neighboring teeth have large fillings and need crowns or caps in the future.”
You should always talk to your dentist to find the option that’s right for you. If you decide that a dental bridge is your best option, here are 3 frequently asked questions you’ll want the answers to.
1. What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is used to replace a missing tooth using a pontic (fake tooth) bonded to an adjacent tooth or teeth. Today’s dental bridges are often made out of porcelain, and are permanent, natural-looking replacements for missing or damaged teeth.
There are 3 common types of dental bridges:
- Traditional dental bridges are the most common. They consist of one or more pontics (fake teeth) held in place by crowns on either side.
- Maryland bridges work by attaching your pontic to just one side of your adjacent teeth, usually the back. The adjacent teeth do not need to be filed, making this a more conservative procedure.
- Cantilever bridges are a third option when there are only teeth on one side of the gap or missing tooth. However, cantilever bridges are not recommended for areas of the mouth that experience high stress, such as the back molars.
Keep in mind that there are benefits and drawbacks to each type of dental bridge. Your dentist will help you find the option that’s right for you.
2. What Should I Expect at My Dental Bridge Appointment?
If you’re getting a dental bridge, you should plan on at least 2 appointments.
At your first appointment, your dentist will prepare the surrounding teeth for the procedure much like if you were getting a single crown. A minimal amount of tooth structure will be removed in order to attach the bridge firmly. Because of the level of precision needed to shape the teeth exactly right, this procedure may take up to or over an hour. Your dentist will also take impressions of your teeth and give you a temporary bridge to wear in between appointments.
At your second appointment, your dentist will replace your temporary bridge with a permanent bridge. This appointment may take place up to 3 weeks after your first appointment to give your dentist time to craft the permanent bridge.
3. Will My Dental Bridge Require Any Special Care?
The bridge should feel somewhat normal after the procedure. The bite should feel good, and the shape may take getting used to. We recommend eating soft foods if the tissue or teeth are sensitive to hot, cold, or pressure, but that will gradually get better after placement. If you experience sensitivity after the procedure, you may need to eat soft foods until the bridge feels normal in your mouth.
To maximize the life of your bridge, you should brush and floss regularly. In addition to flossing between teeth, you’ll need to floss under the fake tooth as well. Since flossing can be challenging with a dental bridge, there are tools your dentist can provide for you and demostrate how they work that will make flossing under the bridge easier. These tools can be purchased over-the-counter in many cases as well.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re scheduling regular dentist appointments, and may want to increase the frequency of these appointments if dental health issues have caught you by surprise in the past.
If tooth decay and other issues are avoided, your dental bridge will last 10 years, as that's the average lifespan. These can last longer than 10 years if taken care of properly.
Do I Have Other Cosmetic Options?
Dental bridges are a traditional solution to missing or damaged teeth. However, depending on your needs, dental implants may be a better choice for you. If you need a more economical option, a Removable Partial Denture (RPD) may be right for you. This is something that can be removed at night and is not permanently adhered on the teeth.
Depending on your wants and needs, another cosmetic procedure may also be needed to help you achieve the smile you deserve. To learn more about our cosmetic dentistry offerings, schedule an appointment today. At Boger Dental, we offer comfortable and convenient cosmetic dentistry, typically involving only two to three office visits. Our team will tailor a plan to your unique needs and help you achieve the smile of your dreams.