Having a missing tooth can cause you to feel embarrassed to smile or self-conscious when laughing around other people. Fortunately for you, there are many options for tooth replacement. One of them is filling in the missing tooth with a fixed bridge. There are four main types of fixed bridges that are most often used today. One of them might be the right solution to restore your smile.
Traditional Fixed Bridge
A traditional fixed bridge is the most common type of bridge and has been used by dentists to fill in missing teeth for many years. It’s made of two crowns that go over the top of the teeth on both sides of the gap created by the missing tooth and are fused to an artificial tooth in the middle that serves to replace the missing tooth. The two crowns and the center artificial tooth (or teeth) form one unit of three (or four) teeth. How long the bridge lasts has much to do with the health of the two natural teeth, so fixed bridges can last many years, even decades, if the anchor teeth have long roots and are well-maintained.
The downside of traditional fixed bridges is that a significant amount of the tooth enamel has to be removed in order to properly seat the crowns. If the bridge becomes loose, bacteria can begin damaging the remaining tooth structure, and there isn’t much of it left for fillings and other restorations.
A cantilever bridge is similar to a traditional fixed bridge, except that it’s only anchored by one tooth instead of two. Usually, the anchor tooth is chosen based on having the longest root structure and being able to give the best support. Because this type of bridge is more subject to torque when there’s pressure on the unsupported side, it can more easily become loose compared to a traditional fixed bridge. A cantilever bridge works the best on smaller front teeth that experience less bite pressure.
A bonded bridge is a single artificial tooth that has wings or extensions on each side that the dentist can attach to the adjacent teeth to keep it in place. Variations of this method are also called Maryland, Rochette, or composite bonded bridges. Because the bond isn’t as strong as other types of bridges, a bonded bridge is usually only used on a front tooth that is less likely to experience a strong bite force. Once a bonded bridge breaks, it is less likely to stay intact if it is reattached.
An implant-supported bridge functions in a similar way as the traditional bridge or the cantilever, only dental implants are used to anchor the teeth. With this method, an artificial root is inserted into the jawbone in the place of a missing tooth. Because of this, the bone density in the position of the implant must be strong enough to support the bridge. Fortunately, if there has been too much bone loss after a tooth has been missing for too long due to reabsorption, the patient can undergo bone grafting to encourage the regrowth of natural bone cells. The dental implant fuses with living bone tissue which prevents any further loss of bone density at the site of the implant. An implant-supported bridge is the longest-lasting of the bridge options, and can potentially last the lifetime of the patient.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
Regardless of the type of dental bridge you use for tooth replacement, there are many benefits to having one:
- Compensate for tooth loss: Each bridge-type includes an artificial tooth that fills in the missing gap.
- Speech improvement: A missing tooth in the front can cause a whistle or lisp when you are speaking or can make speech less clear.
- Improved chewing: Not only can missing teeth adversely affect nutrition by making some foods too painful or difficult to eat, but improperly chewed food can increase your risk of choking.
- Prevent teeth from shifting: The artificial teeth in all bridge-types help to keep the remaining teeth in place.
- Maintain your face’s natural shape: Filling in missing teeth keeps your face from looking sunken.
- Restore your smile: If you’ve found yourself reluctant to smile because you are self-conscious or embarrassed because you have a missing tooth, a bridge can help you get your smile back.
- Increase confidence: You can smile and laugh confidently without worry about a missing tooth.
- Increase self-esteem: You can feel better about yourself when you are happy with the way that you look.
Caring for Fixed Dental Bridges
Dr. Puig will give you instructions on how to care for your fixed dental bridge. You may receive a special kind of floss threader, similar to the type used for braces or retainers, to clean under the bridge space to make sure that food particles don’t remain there causing excess bacteria and bad breath. You may also receive instructions about foods to avoid to keep the integrity of the bond intact for as long as possible, since hard foods, such as nuts, can weaken the bond as well as very sticky foods, such as caramel.
Smile with Confidence with Dynamic Smile Design
If you’ve been wanting to find a solution for a missing tooth or teeth in Orlando, Florida, Dr. Elena C. Puig and the Dynamic Smile Design team can help you find the type of bridge that’s right for you. With more than 20 years of experience in designing beautiful smiles, Dr. Puig and the Dynamic Smile Design team have the expertise you need to get your smile and confidence back. If you want to find out if a traditional, cantilever, bonded, or implant-supported bridge is the best option for you, contact Dynamic Smile Design to request an appointment.