What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is a tooth replacement, which replaces one or more missing teeth. It is only possible to make a dental bridge if there is at least one natural tooth next to the missing teeth on which it can be fixed. If there are no natural teeth, it might be possible to make an implant as an anchor for the bridge. A dental bridge is called so, because it’s construction is similar to that of a real bridge. Just like a real bridge is mounted on solid land and extends over an empty void, so is a dental bridge mounted on one or two of your natural teeth (by capping these teeth with dental crowns) and extends over the toothless gums on either one or both sides.
Different kinds of bridges
The traditional dental bridge is the kind that is supported by a natural tooth in both ends. This is the ideal kind of bridge since the double support makes it more stable and strong.
A cantilever bridge is a dental bridge, which is only supported by a natural tooth in one end. This is normally done, when the missing tooth is the last in the row and there is no tooth further back on which to support it.
A Maryland bridge (or a resin-bonded bridge) is the simplest and cheapest way to make a dental bridge. Two metal ‘wings’ are attached to a plastic tooth and are bonded to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. This kind of dental bridge often does not last very long and is mostly used as a temporary or more economic solution.
When is a dental bridge a good alternative?
Since both the traditional bridge and the cantilever bridge requires capping of the neighbouring teeth with crowns, many dentists would not recommend a dental bridge, if your neighbouring teeth are healthy and have not previously been restored with fillings. It is a pity to remove so much healthy tooth substance, when there are alternatives. Especially with young people who have just lost one tooth and whose dental health is generally good, an implant is normally the preferred treatment, since it can last a lifetime and does not harm the neighbouring teeth.
If, on the other hand, the neighbouring teeth already have large fillings and might eventually require a capping anyway, a dental bridge would be a good solution. Your dentist will be able to give you proper advice in the individual case.
How long does a dental bridge last?
Some dental bridges last 20-25 years while others need to be changed after only 5 years. Since a dental bridge is not a cheap solution, you are probably very interested in knowing the life expectancy of a dental bridge in your case. While it is not possible to predict the lifetime of a dental bridge in each specific case, there are some different factors that play a role:
The condition of the supporting natural teeth: Cavities under the crown on the natural teeth and periodontal disease around the roots are the main threats to your dental bridge.
The oral hygiene: Your dental hygiene is an extremely important factor, when it comes to extending the lifetime of your dental bridge. Good dental hygiene will help prevent problems such as cavities and periodontal disease, which can shorten the lifetime of your dental bridge considerably.
The size of the dental bridge: A bridge replacing several teeth might break more easily than a bridge replacing only one tooth, since the distance between the anchor teeth is longer in a large construction.
The force of the bite: People have different habits when it comes to chewing and some people bite very hard. Other people are in the habit of grinding or clenching their teeth. Depending on your habits and the location of the dental bridge in your mouth, it might be exposed to more strain than it can handle in the long run.
It is always important to consider your options very well before you make a decision regarding your oral health. With the right choices and the proper care you can maintain a healthy and well-functioning set of teeth throughout your lifetime.