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What is a Dental Bridge and How Can it Restore Your Smile?

Man smiling with friends

Missing teeth can significantly impact your quality of life by interfering with chewing and speaking, as well as making you feel extremely self conscious. Not only that, when you lose a tooth, the surrounding teeth tend to shift to fill in the gap, which creates issues with your occlusion, or bite, and can lead to things like gum disease. It’s important to replace a missing tooth, or teeth, and one of the ways our Naperville dentists do that is with a dental device known as a dental bridge.

What is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge gets its name because it quite literally bridges the gap left behind by a missing tooth. The most common type of dental bridge does this by using the teeth on either side of the gap as an anchor. It consists of crowns for each of the anchor teeth, known as abutment teeth, with a filler tooth, called a pontic, in between. The pontic looks just like your natural tooth.

What are the Types of Dental Bridges?

The three types of dental bridges we use at Naperville Dental Specialists are:

Fixed Bridge
This is the most common type and it’s what we described above. As we said, it consists of a filler tooth that sits between two crowns. The crowns are placed on the existing teeth on either side of the gap to support the replacement tooth. It’s the most comfortable and natural looking option.

Cantilever Bridge
Sometimes, there are only teeth on one side of the missing tooth gap, so we’re not able to have two crowns with the filler tooth in between. In these cases, we can resort to what’s known as a cantilever bridge. We place crowns on two teeth on the same side of the gap. The filler tooth is attached to the crowns and extends into the space.

Maryland Bridge
The Maryland bridge has a filler tooth attached to metal bands or wings that we bond to the back of the teeth on either side of the gap to support it. These types of bridges are usually reserved for front teeth.

What Does the Dental Bridge Procedure Entail?

Our Naperville dentists rely on cutting-edge technology to make the dental bridge procedure as comfortable, effective and quick as possible. First, we take digital impressions with our iTero® scanner. The handheld wand snaps images of your teeth and gums in continuous motion and then we use them to create a computerized model. You won’t have to bite into any goopy, messy molds. We use the digital impressions to design your custom restoration to look like your natural teeth. If you’re getting a fixed or cantilever bridge, the dental bridge procedure involves recontouring the abutment teeth by removing some of the enamel. This ensures the crowns will have enough room to cover them. Your dentist will place a temporary bridge to protect your teeth and gums while your permanent bridge is being fabricated.

At your next visit, we’ll remove your temporary bridge. Your dentist will check the permanent bridge and make any adjustments to give you the perfect fit. When you have the correct fit and your bite is coming together properly, the bridge will be cemented in place using a special adhesive.  

How Long do Dental Bridges Last?

The burning questions is how long do dental bridges last? Well, with excellent oral hygiene and regular dental checkups and cleanings, today’s dental bridges can last well over 10 years. Be sure to brush twice daily and floss once a day. Additionally, eat a balanced diet and try to limit the number of sugary foods and drinks you eat, which can lead to decay and shorten the bridge’s lifespan.

What are the Dental Bridges Pros and Cons?

Like any treatment, there are dental bridges pros and cons. The dental bridge pros include:

  • It will replace your missing tooth or teeth and restore your smile. If you look at dental bridges before and after pictures from a skilled cosmetic dentist, you can’t tell they’re not the person’s real teeth.
  • You’ll be able to chew and speak like you normally would.
  • It will help stop your face from sagging, which happens when you have missing teeth that aren’t addressed.
  • A dental bridge helps to maintain your bite and the health of your gums and existing teeth by preventing the teeth from shifting into the space left behind by the missing tooth.
  • The dental bridge procedure is fairly painless and there is no downtime.

While dental bridges are a fantastic solution, they do have drawbacks. The dental bridge cons are:

  • They won’t prevent bone loss like a dental implant. We’re often asked about a dental bridge vs. implant and this is one of the big benefits of dental implants.
  • A bridge also involves altering adjacent teeth even if they’re healthy, which again, a dental implant doesn’t.

Don’t let missing teeth interfere with your ability to smile, eat and speak with confidence. We’ll help you weigh the pros and cons of your different treatment options to ensure you’re getting the healthiest, most aesthetic solution that meets your needs. To learn more about our dental bridges in Naperville, book an appointment at Naperville Dental Specialists today!

Dr. Anthony LaVacca

Author Dr. Anthony LaVacca

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