Medically reviewed by Dr. James Ko

8 Facts To Know About Tooth Bridges From Your Dentist

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If your dentist has informed you that a few teeth have to go, don’t feel alone. Many adults have lost at least one or two teeth by the time they reach the age of 50. In your case, the loss involves teeth that are adjacent to one another.

Your dentist wants to have a talk about the merits of dental bridges. This approach to dental restoration is one that has been in use for decades, and with good reason. Bridges have consistently been improved over the last several years and are more reliable than ever. As you prepare for that talk with your dental professional, feel free to ask any questions that come to mind. Here are some examples of the information that you want to cover before making any decision about this particular dental solution.

What is a Dental Bridge?

Understanding the nature and function of a dental bridge is crucial to grasping why your dentist recommends this solution in the first place. As the name implies, the bridge is intended to fill in the gap left after you’ve lost or had one or more teeth extracted. Rather than leaving the gum unprotected by teeth or allowing the open gap to interfere with your ability to chew food thoroughly, the bridge is able to take on the work that was once done by those now-missing teeth.

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While much of the purpose of the bridge is to allow you to continue to chew properly, it’s also constructed to look much like the real thing. In this sense, you can view a bridge as one way to maintain your appearance.

Is a Tooth Bridge Permanent?

As the discussion with your dentist gets underway, you’ll find that some bridges are considered fixed. This simply means that those particular bridge designs are intended to remain in place from day to day. Rather than removing them for cleaning, you will use brush and use mouthwash to keep the bridge relatively free of bacteria.

Your dentist may recommend using some type of oral water jet to also clean around the bridge and the gum underneath. The nice thing ab out dental tooth bridges is that much of your usual oral hygiene routine will remain the same.

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Are Dental Bridges Removable?

You will also hear some bridge designs referred to as removable. Like the fixed counterparts, they do make use of the surrounding teeth to remain in position. The difference is that they can be detached for easy cleaning. Depending on the specifics of the design, you may remove them every night before bedtime or take them out for cleaning after each meal. Your dentist can provide more detailed instructions on how to care for a removable or detachable bridge.

What Kind of Dental Bridge Can I Get?

There are four dental bridge types that your dentist will want to discuss. Each one comes with its own range of benefits and possible drawbacks. All of them are considered more appropriate for certain types of situations than others. Even if your dentist wants to go over each one, there is likely one in particular that he or she will recommend.

The basic or traditional bridge is the design that tends to work well for most people. With this solution, a bridge consisting of a series of pontics or false teeth is created to span the gap left by the missing teeth. Each pontic is shaped and sized so the fit for the space is perfect. In order to keep the bridge in position, the natural teeth on each side are prepared for bonding and possibly crowns that will help stabilize the bridge. Many people find this is a great solution when there’s the need to fill in gaps of up to three teeth.

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The cantilever bridge is similar in design, but with one important difference: this type of bridge works when there is not a tooth on each side of the gap to use as an anchor. If you are missing the two back molars along an upper or lower jaw, this is the design that your dentist is likely to recommend. While it’s not quite as stable as bridges that can be anchored on both sides, it does tend to serve patients well.

A conservative bridge is much like the traditional design, although the approach to anchoring the device is slight different. With this solution, wire or some type of porcelain bonding agent is used along the back to secure the bridge to the surrounding teeth. You may find that the dentist recommends this approach is you have a gap of one or two teeth that needs to be filled.

The final option is known as an implant-supported bridge. Typically used to fill in wider gaps, the process will involve using two or three implants to create anchors for the bridge itself. Unlike some of the other solutions, this approach does not require anchoring the bridge to the surrounding teeth. The dentist may still use some bonding or maybe use veneers on those teeth if there are any tiny gaps remaining.

Which bridge is best for you? Your dentist will likely present a dental bridge use case to illustrate how each one functions and why a particular design would work best in your case.

Is a Bridge Better Than an Implant?

There’s likely one or more reasons why your dentist is recommending a bridge rather than implants. In some cases, it may be that you will need additional dental work in the next decade, but a bridge will work fine in the interim. At other times, it could be that your insurance will cover most of the cost of a bridge but not implants. There’s also the time factor involved in terms of recovery after receiving a series of implants. Even with an implant-supported bridge, the expanse and the recovery time will be less than installing several implants and creating custom crowns for each one.

In terms of function, your bridge is likely to function with a similar level of efficiency to an implant. Your dentist can provide more specific information based on your general dental health and the type of gap that needs to be filled.

What is the Procedure for Getting a Dental Bridge?

While there are a few differences between how different bridges are installed, there are several elements that apply in any case. The first has to do with making sure the gum and the teeth around the gap are in to condition. There cannot be any signs of decay or gum inflammation present. If there are any issues, they must be resolved before you can be fitted for the bridge.

Expect a cast or mold to be taken in advance. This is to ensure the proportions of the bridge are a perfect fit for the space. It will be on hand at the time the surrounding teeth are modified - typically by grinding the top and possibly removing some enamel in advance of receiving the bonding - and can be moved securely into place before the crowns are placed on those teeth.

Remember that there will be a follow-up visit once the work is done. That’s to ensure any minor swelling has subsided and that the bridge is still firmly in place.

How is a bridge done in dentistry? Outside of these basics, there may be more steps to complete. Your dentist will provide a specific outline of what to expect based on the type of bridge you will receive.

Are Dental Bridges Expensive?

How much does it cost to get a bridge for dental? The bridge design that is chosen will influence the total cost of the procedure. The amount of advance preparation, especially if there is work to do on the surrounding teeth or a need to take care of a gum infection, will also affect the overall expense.

Fortunately, many dental plans do cover the majority of dental bridge costs. That’s especially true if you are receiving a bridge as part of a restoration after being injured in some type of accident. Even if you will end up paying for most of the cost out of pocket, there are dental financing options that make it easier to manage the expense.

What Happens If I Dont Get a Bridge?

In the end, you have to make the decision about receiving a dental bridge. Keep in mind that choosing to not do so could lead to other dental problems later. That’s one reason it pays to understand the type of dental bridge benefits you could be missing out on by doing nothing.

Can you eat with dental bridge? Without a doubt you can. Can you eat as well without one? Not likely. Bridges even the bite so you can masticate with greater ease. Simply put, you can chew your food more efficiently and are less likely to experience digestive issues.

Bridges also help preserve tooth alignment. Without the bridge, the other teeth are likely to lean inward, to the side, or outward. That creates a whole new set of issues. For both function and appearance, you do need that bridge.

Your dental health matters. If your dentist is recommending a bridge, there are serious reasons behind the recommendation. Weigh your choices carefully and come to a decision that’s right for you. In the years to come, you’ll benefit in ways that may not be immediately clear right now.

Andrea Galick

Andrea Galick is an accomplished Dental Hygienist (RDH) with a passion for helping patients achieve optimal oral health. Andrea has built a reputation as a caring and skilled practitioner who puts her patients at ease and provides individualized care that meets their unique needs.

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