Having one or more missing teeth can have a serious effect not only on your smile and function, but also on your dental health. Specifically, missing teeth can cause:
A shift in the alignment of your teeth
Increased risk of periodontal disease
Increased risk of tooth decay
Loss of adjacent or opposing teeth
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
What Are Dental Bridges?
Like dental implants, dental bridges are used to replace a missing tooth, except bridges are supported by the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. These support teeth are referred to as abutment teeth.
What Are the Benefits of Bridges?
Like many cosmetic dental procedures, placing bridges also serves a restorative purpose. A dental bridge will improve your ability to chew and speak as well as your smile. In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, dental bridges were shown to dramatically reduce the risk of losing teeth that are adjacent to a missing tooth. In addition, dental bridges can help keep your jaw and face from changing shape, as they tend to do when a person has missing teeth.
What Types of Bridges Are There?
Cantilever bridges are used to replace a tooth that does not have supporting teeth on both sides of the affected area.
Maryland bonded bridges include artificial teeth and gums, and are held in place by a metal frame.
Traditional bridges are the most common, and literally bridge the gap of an empty tooth space by securing a false tooth using crowns on the teeth on either side.
How Are Dental Bridges Placed?
The procedure of installing a dental bridge is typically completed in two visits. First, your dentist will determine if you are a good candidate for a dental bridge. If you are, your teeth will need to be prepared by reshaping or reconstructing any badly decayed or damaged areas. Afterward, your dentist will take an impression or scan of your teeth, which is then sent off to a lab where it is cast into a mold, and then fabricated into a bridge. A temporary bridge will be made in the office during your visit, and temporarily cemented to wear while your permanent bridge is being constructed at the lab. On your second visit, the permanent bridge will be fitted, and any necessary corrections or adjustments will be made that time. A comfortable fit and feel is ensured, as well as your satisfaction with the look of the bridge before it is permanently cemented.
How Long Do Dental Bridges Last?
Dental bridges can last from 8 to 15 years or even longer if you maintain good oral hygiene at home as well as routinely visiting your dental healthcare provider.
Are Bridges Covered By My Dental Insurance?
Dental bridges are typically partially covered by dental insurances. Ask your dentist to get an estimate of benefits from your dental insurance to find out how much you will have to pay out of pocket.