What is a Dental Bridge?

Most people have heard the term “bridge” in connection with dentistry or dental treatment.  We have heard some use it incorrectly to describe dental work that is not technically a bridge, so we will clarify exactly what a bridge is in this week’s blog.

What Dental Problem Can a Dental Bridge Correct?

A dental bridge is a treatment option to replace a missing tooth.  We can use bridges to replace several missing teeth in a row, but there are limits to the type and number of teeth we can replace with a single dental bridge.  Ideally, a bridge will replace not more than two small teeth that are missing.

A bridge can only correct missing teeth that have healthy natural teeth present on both sides of the missing tooth space.  This is because the bridge must have a tooth to anchor the prosthesis on each side of the replacement tooth.

Who is a Candidate for a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a great way to replace a missing tooth, and it has some specific requirements.  As we mentioned above, there must be two healthy natural teeth surrounding the missing tooth space.  These teeth bear the additional chewing burden of the “fake” tooth, so they must have strong root structure, a healthy foundation of periodontal tissues, and intact tooth structure above the gums.

This means that a dental bridge is not a good treatment option when the neighboring teeth have active gum disease with bone loss or large decay that weakens the remaining tooth structure.

What are the Advantages of Dental Bridges?

Dental bridges provide several advantages in their restoration of a missing tooth.  They provide a good cosmetic result with natural colors of porcelain that your dentist can match to the surrounding teeth.  They require minimal time (compared to other tooth replacement options).  From preparation to final placement, the bridge process takes about three weeks.

A dental bridge also provides the unique advantage of covering the adjacent teeth with crowns.  This is beneficial in a situation where those neighboring teeth need dental work anyway (to restore decay or cracked teeth).  The treatment of a bridge can both repair the problems on the individual teeth and support a replacement tooth.

What are the Disadvantages of Dental Bridges?

Dental bridges are relatively expensive.  The cost of a bridge is determined by the number of teeth it involves, so a three-unit bridge costs about the same as three dental crowns.

A dental bridge requires special cleaning techniques because the units are connected to each other.  This means that you cannot floss normally between the three teeth on a bridge. Additional dental tools or techniques are necessary to keep the teeth under the bridge clean and healthy!

Most problems that can occur with a dental bridge are not repairable.  If there is an issue under one side of the bridge affecting only a single tooth, we must replace the entire bridge.

What are the Alternative Treatment Options?

The treatment options for replacing missing teeth vary widely.  We have dental treatments that use a removable prosthesis, called a partial denture, and those that anchor into the jawbone using dental implants.  The costs and long term prognoses also vary widely.   It is essential to understand that there is no good “one-size-fits-all” approach to replacing a missing tooth.

Dr. Chowning assesses each unique situation for each patient to help determine the best teeth replacement option.

More Questions about Dental Bridges?

Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can assess your missing tooth situation and discuss all of your treatment options with you.