A Center For Family Dentistry

Do You Need a Dental Bridge?

June 10, 2014 — by Keith Kelley, DDS
Tags: Dental Bridges Dental Implants Restorative Dentistry

Millions of Americans have lost one or more teeth. The truth is, a few of your friends and neighbors, and perhaps you, are dealing with the aesthetic and functional issues caused by missing teeth. A dental bridge is one of the most common treatments for missing teeth. At Dr. Keith Kelly’s Troy practice, we offer a variety of dental prosthetics, including bridges, partials, and dentures, as well as dental implants to secure dental prosthetics. For optimal oral health and self-confidence, missing teeth should be promptly replaced.

What Is a Dental Bridge?

As the name implies, a dental bridge fills the spaces where one or a few teeth are missing. Structurally, a bridge features a dental crown, one or more pontics (prosthetic replacement teeth), and another crown. The crowns attach to healthy teeth and hold the pontics in place. Bridges are fixed, meaning they cannot be removed by the patient. If you’ve heard the term “removable bridge,” it was probably referring to a partial denture, which is removable.

Benefits of a Dental Bridge

  • A bridge creates the impression that the patient has a full set of natural, attractive teeth. Dr. Kelly understands the impact that appearance has on a person’s self-confidence.
  • The patient regains the ability to chew foods properly and thoroughly, to aid digestion.
  • The patient can pronounce sounds that require the presence of the formerly missing teeth.
  • The forces required for chewing foods are distributed evenly throughout the mouth, relieving stress on teeth that previously had to work overtime to compensate for lost teeth.
  • Natural teeth can no longer shift, or drift, out of position and potentially cause issues such as bruxism (teeth grinding), malocclusion, and TMJ disorder.

Am I a Candidate for a Bridge?

A dental bridge may be the right option if:

  • You have one or more teeth missing in a row.
  • You have good oral health and no gum disease.
  • You have no condition that could compromise teeth roots or jawbone density.
  • You have strong, healthy teeth on either side of the spaces left by missing teeth.

Are All Bridges the Same?

No. In fact, you have many options for dental bridges. A traditional dental bridge replaces one or more teeth in a row and attaches to two crowns placed on natural teeth. A cantilever bridge attaches to just one crown and is often placed in the back of the mouth, where a second posterior tooth is not available. A Maryland bonded bridge does not attach to crowns at all; it features a synthetic gum portion and metal wings on either side of the pontics. These wings are bonded to teeth on either side of the spaces being filled by pontics.

In addition to these three types of bridges, an implant-retained bridge has become popular for a variety of reasons. Secured to two biocompatible implants placed into the sockets where teeth are missing, an implant-retained dental bridge does not require support from natural teeth. Because implants can last a lifetime, implant-retained bridges provide the patient with a significant advantage over traditional bridges. Furthermore, because dental implants are anchored in jaw tissue, they prevent osteoporosis of the jawbone, which naturally occurs after tooth loss.

What If I Want a Bridge?

The first step to finding out if you’re a dental bridge candidate is scheduling an appointment with Dr. Kelley. At this visit, the dentist will talk with you, evaluate your current oral health and oral health records, and then discuss his recommendations. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, as well. Once you and the dentist determine a treatment plan, you’ll be well on your way to a full set of teeth and a more beautiful smile. 

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