Modern dentistry offers many treatment options for a missing tooth or multiple teeth. One great option for many patients is a dental bridge. However, like any medical procedure, there are pros and cons associated with choosing bridges over other treatments. Read on if you are considering a dental bridge, or other options, to treat missing teeth.
What is a Dental Bridge?
Missing teeth are not only unsightly, but they can cause additional dental and periodontal problems down the road. A dental bridge is an effective treatment option that can effectively replace a missing tooth or multiple missing teeth, restoring the look of your smile, as well as the function of your teeth.
Bridges work by securing two crowns to healthy teeth adjacent to a gap. A pontic, or false tooth, is supported between the crowns. The bridge will match the color and look of your natural teeth and blend seamlessly into your smile.
How Does a Bridge Differ from Other Options?
Unlike partial dentures, which fit onto your gums and are meant to be removed, a bridge is permanently affixed to your existing teeth. You care for a bridge just like your natural teeth and do not remove it for cleaning.
A bridge differs from dental implants as well. Implants are also permanent, but instead of being secured to neighboring teeth, they are comprised of a crown supported by a titanium fixture drilled directly into the jaw bone.
Pros of Dental Bridges
Dental bridges have many benefits that make them a great option for a lot of patients.
More Secure and Comfortable than Dentures
Like full dentures, partial dentures are secured to the gums with temporary sealant. This can be uncomfortable and messy. The seal is not as secure as permanently affixed options such as bridges and implants. (Bonus: you clean bridges the same way you do your natural teeth, so they do not have to be removed and soaked like dentures).
Faster Than Implants
Bridges usually only require two appointments, relatively close together. Implants may take longer to complete as they require the jaw to heal around the implant for a certain duration of time before the permanent crown can be placed.
Bridges are less expensive up front than implants. In addition, bridges are usually covered by insurance, while implants are less likely to be covered.
Can Replace Multiple Teeth
If you are missing multiple teeth in a row, a bridge may be preferable to implants. Each implant must be drilled separately into the jaw, which can become expensive and impractical. A bridge can span one missing tooth or several.
An Option if You Have Insufficient Bone Health
Implants require sufficient jaw bone structure to be secured. Bone grafting may be an option, but it could be extensive and costly. A bridge affixes to existing teeth and not to the underlying bone, so it may be a better option for some patients.
Cons of Dental Bridges
There are some potential drawbacks to choosing a bridge which you will want to consider.
Bridges do not last as long as dental implants. Most bridges last 5-10 years, while implants can last 15 years or longer.
Bridges require healthy teeth in order to place the bridge. This process may also cause damage to those teeth because crowns have to be fitted onto those teeth. Implants are secured to the jaw and do not affect the rest of the teeth, while dentures are secured to the gums with temporary adhesive.
Potential for Decay
When a tooth is missing, it can cause an increased likelihood of decay and cavities in neighboring teeth. In addition, the space can cause teeth to become misaligned and degrade the integrity of the underlying bone. While a bridge will help prevent teeth from sinking into the gap, there may remain a slightly higher risk of decay than you would find with implants. Of course, exceptional oral hygiene and regular dental visits help mitigate this risk.
Is a Bridge Right for You?
Schedule a consultation with Elite Dental & Denture to find out whether a dental bridge is your best treatment option.