Dental bridges are a permanent and natural-looking method for restoring several adjacent missing teeth. There are several different types of dental bridges available that are suited for specific needs of the patient. Here is a comparison of four types of dental bridges to help you choose the best one to suit your needs.
Traditional Crown-Supported Bridges
Traditional bridges are supported by crowns that are installed over the teeth on either side of the gap, known as the abutment teeth. The abutment teeth must first be filed down so the crowns can fit over them. The crowns will provide anchor points for false teeth known as pontics that are suspended between them. This way, the pontics will naturally be placed in the correct position when the crowns are fitted over the abutment teeth.
Traditional dental bridges continue to be one of the most popular choices for patients who have healthy teeth on either side of the gap in their teeth. Both the crowns and pontics are often made from porcelain or ceramic so that the bridge is indistinguishable from your natural teeth once it is in place.
One of the biggest disadvantages of traditional bridges is that the healthy abutment teeth have to be significantly reduced to make room for the supporting crowns. Resin-bonded bridges have arisen as a solution to this problem. With resin-bonded bridges, dentists can file only the back of the enamel on the abutment teeth and leave the front of these teeth untouched.
Resin-bonded bridges consist of one or more pontics with "wings" on either side made from metal or composite resin. After the backs of the abutment teeth are filed, the dentist applies a layer of composite resin in putty form to the back of the teeth and presses the wings into them. A UV light is then used to harden the putty resin instantly so that the bridge is anchored firmly in place.
Cantilever bridges are an option for people who do not have healthy teeth on both sides of the gap in their teeth. This type of bridge is installed by placing a crown over one or two abutment teeth on the same side of the gap. One or more pontics extend into the gap from the last abutment tooth so that they fill the spaces where the missing teeth used to be.
While cantilever bridges do effectively replace missing teeth, some dentists are turning away from using this type of bridge due to concerns about the amount of stress it places on the abutment(s).
Implant-supported bridges are commonly used as an alternative to cantilever bridges or for replacing much larger sections of missing teeth. Instead of relying on natural teeth for support, the dentist will place titanium implants in the jawbone on either side of the gap. These implants have metal abutments that stick up through the gums that can be fitted with bridge-supporting crowns.
Implant-supported bridges are one of the most stable types of dental bridges available. Because the titanium implants fuse with the jawbone through the process of osseointegration, implant-supported bridges are much less likely to need replacement as a result of gum recession that can loosen natural teeth. This extra support also makes the bridge much better at standing up to the forces of chewing and speaking, as the implants are very efficient at spreading the force over the entire bridge rather than focusing it on a single tooth.
As these comparisons show, dental bridges can be used in many different cases to restore the appearance and functionality of missing teeth. Use this information to have an informed conversation with your dentist to find the right type of dental bridge for your teeth. For more information, click here.