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Facts About Dental Bridges

Facts About Dental Bridges

Ronald Rosenblatt, DDS (General and Cosmetic Dentistry) gives expert video advice on: Why would I want a fixed dental bridge?; Will a dental bridge change the way I speak?; What are the risks associated with a dental bridge? and more...

What is a "traditional dental bridge"?

A dental bridge replaces teeth that are missing between several other teeth that are sound. A dental bridge will span that area with teeth that have been fabricated by a laboratory to replace those teeth.

What is a "cantilever bridge"?

A normal dental bridge has a sound tooth on either end with missing teeth in between those sound teeth. A cantilever bridge is attached to one tooth and then hangs over, or cantilevers, beyond that one tooth without another tooth on the other end.

What is a "Maryland bonded bridge"?

In a Maryland bonded dental bridge, much less tooth structure is taken down from the tooth. The two pieces to the Maryland Bridge are then bonded to the teeth on either side with the tooth or teeth in the middle. A Maryland dental bridge is not structurally as sound as a conventional bridge and normally will not last as long.

What is the difference between a "fixed" and "removable" dental bridge?

There are two types of dental bridges. There is a fixed bridge and a removable bridge. The removable dental bridge is by its very nature removable. You take it out, brush your teeth and put it back in. A fixed dental bridge stays in. Sometimes a fixed dental bridge is called a permanent bridge.

Why would I want a removable dental bridge?

Sometimes there aren't enough teeth left in the mouth to allow the placement of a fixed dental bridge. In a case like this, the only solution may be a removable dental bridge. Also, very often a removable bridge will be less expensive than a fixed bridge, so for reasons of finances alone the choice may be a removable bridge instead of a fixed bridge rather than just because we're not able to place a fixed dental bridge.

Why would I want a fixed dental bridge?

The reason for placing a fixed dental bridge is because it stays in the mouth all the time. It is most like the way you were before you lost the teeth. You brush the teeth like you did before. You're able to run floss through the dental bridge by threading it through, and everything is pretty much the way it used to be. When you have a removable dental bridge, as opposed to a fixed bridge, it tends to trap food against the teeth very much and so you have to take it out to brush. With a fixed dental bridge, you brush it just like your normal teeth.

How will my dentist insert a dental bridge?

How does this dental bridge come about? You go to your dentist and you have a missing tooth, or maybe you have two missing teeth on the bottom left, for example. You say to the dentist, "I'm not happy with this space. What can we do?" The dentist says, "We could put a removable dental bridge, or a fixed dental bridge." The reason we'd want to put a fixed bridge is because it's like your normal teeth. The reason we'd want to put a removable bridge is because it's less expensive. You decide that you want to have a fixed dental bridge. The dentist will then numb up the area and prepare the teeth on either side of the space. After the teeth are prepared, they will then take an impression of the area, so that models can be made that duplicate what's in your mouth. From these models, a laboratory will construct the fixed dental bridge. The dentist will also - depending upon the type of bridge that's placed, if it's going to be a tooth coloured bridge - take the shade of your natural teeth on either side, so that when it's placed, it will match everything. Normally, after they take the impressions, they will place a temporary dental bridge so that the teeth will be protected. After a week or two, you will return to the dentist, who will take out the temporary bridge after numbing you, and then place the fixed dental bridge, make sure that it fits well and that the bite is right. Then, the dentist will cement the fixed bridge in place, and you will be able to use it just like your natural teeth were before they went missing.

Will it be difficult to eat with a dental bridge?

It should not be difficult to eat with a dental bridge. If it's a fixed dental bridge, the ideal is to make the fixed bridge just as the teeth were before you had lost those teeth. If this is replicated the way things were before, you should have no difficulty at all eating. If it's a removable dental bridge, there will be a certain amount of mulch associated with it, and with the clasps that hold the removable bridge in place. These can trap food, and they will be in an area that intrudes upon your tongue and perhaps your cheeks, and cause you a period of accommodation until you get used to it. Once you get used to the dental bridge, most people are able to eat very well, with a removable bridge as well as a fixed bridge.

Will a dental bridge change the way I speak?

If the dental bridge is placed well, you should be speaking the way you spoke before soon after its placement. There may be a period of accommodation because you may have less space for your tongue. If you were missing teeth, particularly on the bottom, for a long time, then your tongue is going to flatten out into that space. Once these teeth are replaced with a dental bridge, your tongue will round up to the shape it had before the teeth were lost, but it's going to take some time to do that. During that accommodation phase, you may have some difference in your speaking pattern than you had before, but after you accommodate to all of this you should be speaking the way you did before.

What are the risks associated with a dental bridge?

Whenever teeth are used to replace missing teeth, there is an extra strain placed on these teeth that weren't there before and there is some risk associated with it. These risks can be mitigated by making sure that the bite of the dental bridge is good and there are no areas where you bang against these teeth when you move your jaw from side to side. As long as that is done, there is a very good chance that the dental bridge will last a long time. However, it is still not as good as all natural teeth in the same area.

Will I need to replace my dental bridge?

More than likely when you have a dental bridge placed, it's going to last in the area of 10-15 years, sometimes a little bit longer. If you are in your 30s, you will probably have this dental bridge replaced two or three times during your lifetime. We would hope they would be replaced seven or eight times during your lifetime, which means you've lived a long time, but it is not going to last forever. There are strains placed on the materials and the teeth that will cause the dental bridge to need to be replaced at some point, and you can't expect it to last forever.

What is the best way to care for my dental bridge?

Care of the dental bridge is going to vary a little bit according to whether it's a fixed bridge or a removable bridge. If it's a fixed bridge; let's say we replaced two teeth, so there will be four teeth involved in all. There will be the two teeth replaced and the two teeth on either side, the abutments, which are all attached. What that means is you will not be able to slide floss through between these teeth like you did before. However, by using an item called a floss-threader you can thread floss there and still use it effectively. Your dentist or your dental hygienist will show you how to do this. It's important to keep the area nice and clean, because you're not able to clean it as you did before. If you have a removable bridge, then you need to take it out and brush the area where the removable bridge sits, and then also brush the removable bridge. As long as you put the removable bridge in the way the dentist showed you, and remove it and brush well all the time, then you should be well. However, there's also a strain placed on the teeth that the removable bridge holds on to. You have to have this checked routinely, because the clasps that hold onto the tooth should give as it's placed in rather than loosening the tooth. So, you have to make sure that that happens the right way all of the time, so you don't lose the teeth on either side.