Dental Bridges Frequently Asked Questions
Loss of teeth is a very common dental problem. Recent epidemiological studies (1) show that over 170 million Americans have lost one or more teeth. These problems increase as we age. Moreover, according to the World Health Organisation (2), about 30% of Europeans aged 65–74 years have no natural teeth which reduce their function and quality of life. For this reason, esthetic dentists and oral health experts use various methods to fill the void left by a missing tooth.
Looking for a dentist in Malta or have any dental related questions? You can book an appointment online or contact us directly on (+356) 2125 7253 (Skyparks Business Centre, Malta International Airport), or (+356) 2155 7323 (Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo). For international patients, it is recommended to request a free e-consultation where we can discuss your individual case and treatment options.
What are dental bridges?
When you lose a tooth, a gap remains between your teeth. A dental bridge or a pontic is a false tooth that the dentist uses to replace a missing tooth. Depending on the number of missing teeth you have and the condition of the teeth on either side of the gap (abutment teeth), a bridge could be an excellent option to fill the void.
How do they work?
The placement of a bridge is quite straightforward. The patient getting bridges can remain awake and alert throughout the procedure. Sedation is not required unless the patient requests it.
The dentist uses a local anaesthetic to numb the target area. After trimming down the abutment teeth, they take measurements (impressions) of the patient’s teeth and mouth. This allows the dental technicians to create a bridge that fits accurately. A temporary bridge is then fitted until the permanent one is made.
A patient would need more than one visit to the dentist for this procedure. The recovery time for this procedure is minimal. Most patients can eat normally a couple of hours after the procedure.
Benefits of dental bridges
Dental bridges come with a host of benefits. First off, you do not need to remove them whenever you want to clean your teeth. You can brush your teeth normally. Besides that, bridges have an average life span of ten years. They are strong and stable and, with impeccable oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups, they can last even longer.
Loss of teeth can lead to low self-esteem; bridges help restore not only your smile but also your confidence.
Types of dental bridges
Traditional bridges revolve around designing a crown on either side of a missing tooth. The dental experts put these types of bridges together with pontics in between the crowns. The crowns are meant to hold together the fake teeth.
Traditional bridges are quite strong. In some cases, dentists use them to replace a patient’s molars. These bridges are usually made of metal and porcelain, or solely of porcelain.
Cantilever bridges are not much different from traditional bridges. However, the fake teeth or the pontics on these bridges receive support from one side. This is what sets them apart from the popular traditional bridges.
Cantilever bridges cannot be used in all situations. It is normally the tooth behind the gap that is used as an abutment tooth.
In some cases, dentists choose to use implant-supported bridges. These work very well when a patient has several teeth missing.
Unlike other types of bridges where crowns support the pontics, the support of these bridges hinges on dental implants. Depending on the number of missing teeth, a dentist will decide how many implants are required to support the bridge.
Dental technicians design Maryland bridges with a porcelain or metal framework. The role of this framework is to hold the pontic in place by a ceramic or metal wing cemented onto a neighbouring tooth. Just like the traditional bridges, Maryland bridges only work if you have natural teeth on both sides of the gap left by a missing tooth/teeth
Case Study: Before & After Dental Bridge Treatment
Possible dental bridges complications
From the outside, dental bridges are quite appealing. Unfortunately, if the abutment (supporting) tooth is decaying, then complications may occur.
For patients with gum disease or tooth decay, there is a possibility of developing other infections after this treatment. However, your dentist will treat any underlying problems before fitting dental bridges.
Like any other dental procedure, your bridge could fail in several ways. For instance,an abutment tooth could break due to trauma or caries. The cement seal might break causing the bridge to fall out. This, however, can easily be re-cemented. In other cases, the bridge itself could break. Follow-up dental procedures may be necessary to correct these kinds of failures.
Pain or chewing problems
Once you get the bridges, you may experience some pain, especially when chewing until things settle. At times, the bite may feel strange. This implies that your bite needs to be re-adjusted. If these conditions persist, then you should seek help from your dentist.
How to take care of your dental bridges
Taking care of bridges is not different from taking care of your natural teeth. Observing excellent dental hygiene is paramount. Additionally, you should schedule regular checkups with the dentist. Also, always brush your teeth twice a day and floss with the right flosser, and your bridges will serve you for a long time.
How long do bridges last?
When done well, bridges can offer a patient about 10 to 15 years of service. However, you need to practice meticulous oral hygiene and visit your dentist for check-ups frequently as otherwise, they may fail after only a couple of years.
Do dental bridges make eating difficult?
Dental bridges may feel foreign and strange for the first few days after the procedure. Nonetheless, a patient should eat without feeling pain. If there is a lot of pain while chewing, then that is a sign that something is wrong and your dentist should have a look.
Can dental bridges change how I speak?
A temporary speech impairment could occur after getting dental bridges. This is due to the air gaps suddenly being filled. Since a dental bridge brings a different dimension in terms of airflow, you may have problems pronouncing some words. Nevertheless, the lisp should fade away as you get used to the bridge.
Are there alternatives for dental bridges?
Some of the other alternatives for dental bridges include dentures, dental implants, or leaving the gap as it is. Most people prefer to fill in the gap left by a missing tooth for various reasons. Moreover, replacing missing teeth is quite instrumental in boosting your confidence.
Further Reading: Dental Bridges Vs Implants Treatment
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