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What Are Dental Bridges?

When a patient visits the dentist to address a missing tooth or teeth, a likely solution will be a plan to create a bridge, or custom made replacement tooth or teeth, to fill the gap or space in the patient’s smile. A dental bridge is a false tooth —also known as a pontic — that is custom designed to a patient’s mouth to help restore their bite and the natural shape of the face. When there is a gap between teeth, a patient may experience a change in their bite as a result of other teeth shifting or moving out of place. 

As a result of tooth loss, and an affected bite, more stress is placed on your teeth and jaw joints, which could result in pain and damage. The jaw bone may also shrink and change the support needed for the lips and cheeks, thus, a patient’s facial features may change and result in their face appearing older. 

Dentistry advancements have allowed for patients to be fitted with bridge choices that are nearly identical in appearance to the remaining natural and surrounding teeth. Bridges are made from metal, ceramics, or in some cases, a combination of both. A patient and his/her dentist will discuss the materials, and ultimately decide which would be the best fit for his/her smile. 

Types of Bridges

When consulting with your dentist, you will probably have several questions including what types of bridges are available and which one best suits your needs. There are 4 types of dental bridges commonly used including traditional; cantilever; Maryland; and implant supported. 

  • Traditional Dental Bridge: The most popular type of dental bridge, traditional bridges are used when there are natural teeth on both sides of the gap or space created by a missing tooth. A traditional bridge is held in place by two abutment teeth and includes one or more pontic teeth. Abutment teeth are natural teeth held in place with cemented dental crowns to support the pontic (or fake) teeth between them. Traditional bridges are commonly made of ceramic or porcelain fused to metal, and very often are strong enough to serve in place of molars. The average cost of a traditional dental bridge will typically range between $2,000 – $5,000 for a single pontic and crown for each abutment tooth. 
  • Cantilever Dental Bridge: While similar to a traditional bridge, a patient fitted for a cantilever dental bridge will include a pontic held in place by a dental crown, and cemented on only one abutment tooth and require only one natural tooth adjacent to the gap where a tooth (teeth) are missing. Cantilever bridges may be used so a bridge can still be secured when there are natural teeth to only one side of a gap. Also, like traditional bridges, a dentist will prepare the adjacent tooth by removing its enamel to support the bridge. As a result of the cantilever bridge offering support on only one side, there are increased instances of complications including fractured teeth or loosened crowns, according to the Journal of American Science. Notwithstanding, the cost of a cantilever dental bridge will range between $2,000 – $5,000 for a single pontic and crown for each abutment tooth. 
  • Maryland Bridges: A Maryland bridge is a resin-bonded bridge recommended to replace teeth missing from the front the smile. Using metal or porcelain bands, they bind a pontic tooth to the backs of natural teeth adjacent to the gap. Maryland bridges will not require the enamel to be removed from the adjacent teeth, and unlike traditional and cantilever bridges, a Maryland bridge does not need to be kept in place using a crown. Maryland bridges differ from traditional bridges in that they are not as durable, and are only as strong as the binding materials used to hold it in place. A Maryland bridge may not stay in place where increased biting force is used, such as molar regions. Maryland bridges may be a more cost-effective alternative to the traditional or cantilever bridge, but as previously mentioned, it may require more frequent trips to the dentist for replacement. The cost of Maryland bridges ranges from $1,500 – $2,500 for a single pontic with framework, or wings, attached to abutment teeth. 
  • Implant-Supported Bridges:  Implant-supported bridges differ from regular dental bridges in that these require teeth to be supported by dental implants as opposed to natural teeth. A patient may benefit from an implant-supported bridge when there is more than one missing tooth, or if the possibility exists that there may be too much pressure on individual implants that are not connected. A dental implant may be placed for each missing tooth to create a series to hold the bridge in place; or may require a dentist to include a pontic tooth suspended between two implant-supported crowns when one implant for every lost tooth is not possible. Implant-supported crowns require two surgeries, including one to set the dental implants and a second to place the bridge. In this case, it may take several months before a patient receives a finished implant-supported bridge. The cost of an implant-supported bridge may cost anywhere from $5,000 – $15,000 for a bridge including two dental implants that span three or four teeth. 

Patient Outlook 

Cosmetic dentistry affords patients the opportunity to dramatically improve their smile using replacement options that he/she may discuss in-depth with their dentist. It’s important to assess the benefits of dental bridges, and make an informed decision based on several factors including cost, long-term care, and the risks associated with a procedure. For more information about dental bridge options, or for answers to your family’s dental needs, contact Whitewing Dental and experience top quality dentistry services by visiting whitewingdental.com.


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