If you’re missing one or more teeth, a bridge is often the most effective option to fill the space for cosmetic reasons. A bridge may also be used to help maintain the shape of your face or alleviate stress on your bite.
Dental bridges fall under one of four types. The most common is the traditional dental bridge. These are a good option when there are natural teeth on either side of the gap from the missing tooth. The neighboring teeth are crowned to support the bridge.
If there is only one neighboring tooth to act as an anchor, a Cantilever dental bridge is the most common alternative. That tooth is crowned and supports all the weight of the replacement tooth of the bridge. However, this option can cause the existing tooth to weaken over time.
A Maryland bonded bridge uses a porcelain or metal framework to support replacement teeth. While it still requires neighboring teeth on either side of the gap, those teeth don’t support the bridge, eliminating the risk of damage in the long-term.
Finally, an implant-supported bridge uses implants instead of natural teeth to support the bridge. The implants are inserted into the jaw, which requires dental surgery, and the bridge is attached above the gum line. While implant-supported bridges are more expensive than other bridge options, they are stabler and last longer. They also allow you to replace multiple teeth.
In short, a bridge replaces missing teeth with artificial teeth, looks great, and literally bridges the gap where one or more teeth may have been. Your bridge can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials and is bonded onto surrounding teeth for support.
The success of any bridge depends on its foundation — the other teeth, gums, or bone to which it is attached. Therefore, it’s very important to keep your existing teeth, gums, and jaw healthy and strong.