What Are Dental Bridges and What They Do

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Has your dentist recommended a dental bridge to replace one or more missing, damaged, decayed, or broken teeth? Bridges can effectively replace a missing tooth or missing teeth in situations where an implant isn’t appropriate or possible. (We’ll refer to those as traditional bridges.) If your tooth isn’t missing but is too damaged or unstable to support a crown, removing that tooth and replacing it using a dental bridge supported by implants can solve the problem. (We’ll refer to those as implant-supported bridges.)

As you decide whether to get a dental bridge in Okotoks, here’s an introduction to bridges and answers to some common questions. Whether a bridge is right for you is something you should discuss with the staff at a dental office near you. This introduction to basic information about dental bridges may help guide that discussion.

How do dental bridges work?

A dental bridge is a type of restoration that “bridges” the gap left behind by missing teeth. The structure of the bridge holds a replacement tooth called a pontic that fills the gap in your jaw. How are bridges held in place?

Traditionally, a bridge is supported by a crown at each end, with the crown slipping over the top of healthy teeth on either side of the gap. (There are a couple of tweaks on this traditional crown-based form of a dental bridge. We’ll introduce those briefly below.) For people who would prefer not to alter their healthy teeth to accommodate a crown to hold their bridge, a bridge can also be supported by and attached to implants placed directly and permanently into your jaw.

What are the benefits of dental bridges?

  • By replacing your missing teeth, dental bridges can restore your full smile.
  • Dental bridges received through a dental clinic near you also restore your ability to chew, bite, and speak properly.
  • Persistent tooth loss can result in changes to the shape of your jaw. Because the jaw defines the shape of your face, any changes to the shape of your jaw affect your appearance. Over time, tooth loss can contribute to a sunken appearance in your face that adds years to your appearance. A dental bridge can maintain the proper shape of your face.
  • Your teeth have a natural tendency to shift and twist into open spaces in your jaw. Those movements of your teeth causes changes to your bite that can throw your teeth out of alignment, cause discomfort, and undermine your ability to eat and speak. Filling that gap with a pontic supported by a bridge can prevent that from happening.

Different types of dental bridges

There are several types of dental bridges in Okotoks. Which type of dental bridge is appropriate for you depends on a lot of factors, including the health of your remaining teeth and the location of your missing teeth.

As mentioned above, one dental bridge option that does not rely at all on any other teeth is an implant-supported bridge. If implants are not the right solution, there is more than one type of traditional bridge. If there is only one tooth alongside a gap (if the missing tooth is a molar, for example), a cantilever bridge is secured with just one crown rather than two. Bridges can also be secured to the back of teeth adjacent to the gap using a less invasive Maryland bridge in a situation where slipping crowns over adjacent teeth is not preferred. Cantilever bridges and Maryland bridges can be effective in appropriate situations. However, they are less stable than a traditional bridge supported by two crowns. The most stable but most invasive type of dental bridge is an implant-supported bridge.

If you’re considering getting a dental bridge in Okotoks, ask a dentist near you which type of bridge is the most appropriate for you. Your dentist will explain each option’s advantages and disadvantages and explain the process of solving your tooth loss with this versatile restoration.