A bridge can be used to replace just one tooth or a few teeth in a row. It looks like three or more porcelain crowns that are fused together side-by-side. It is a fairly flexible restorative option in that it can be placed anywhere in the mouth, as long as there are healthy teeth (or implants) on either end to support it. Each end of the bridge is a functional crown that is cemented over the tooth or implant.
Your dentist will specify the exact color, shade, and hues of the teeth on your bridge. This allows the permanent restoration to blend in rather than stand out when you smile.
Why Get a Bridge?
The real question when it comes to getting a bridge is “why not?” Fixed bridges offer several different benefits, including:
- When you have a missing tooth, the next thing that usually happens is the neighboring teeth start to shift into that open space. A bridge keeps teeth placed nicely where they ought to be, by omitting the spacing between them.
- One of the other more common challenges of a missing tooth is having the opposing tooth drift out of its socket. When you give it a new “tooth” to bite against, it prevents this problem from happening.
- Perhaps the biggest benefit of getting a bridge is aesthetic. They are designed to look like natural and fill in “gaps” so that it doesn’t look like you have missing teeth.
- With a bridge, you can maintain normal biting and chewing abilities. There won’t be any accommodations that you must make because of a lack of teeth to chew on, as your bridge helps to correct this.
- Avoid the embarrassment of how your speech sounds with missing teeth.
- Bridges prevent the need to wear a removable prosthesis, such as a partial denture.
Works for Teeth and Implants
Bridges allow you to replace several teeth at one time. Being that they can go on top of teeth or implants, it provides you with more flexibility when it comes to how many teeth that you can replace.
On natural teeth, a bridge can usually only replace one or two missing teeth. With an implant, you can replace three or even four teeth (with just two implants.)
Extended Options Available
Some types of bridges, sometimes called a hybrid denture or extended bridge, can be anchored across as few as four implants to replace all of the teeth in one arch. Depending on where you live and the dentist that you see, some people may call these an implant retained type of denture instead of a bridge. However, the concept remains the same.
The Treatment Process
Traditional bridges require the same type of preparation as having a crown made. First, your dentist will reshape the supporting teeth and then take an impression. A model of your mouth is made and sent to a laboratory, with specific instructions on the color and shade of your new bridge. The lab will use porcelain to create realistic looking crowns that are bonded together to “bridge” across the open gap in your smile.
About two weeks later, your restoration is ready. You’ll return to your dentist’s office where any temporary are removed, your permanent bridge tried in, and then the bridge is cemented in place.
Protecting Your Investment
One of the biggest mistakes that people make after getting a bridge is not caring for it properly. Although the restoration is installed over healthy teeth or implants, you need to clean under it and around the supporting teeth daily. Otherwise, plaque biofilm can accumulate in these areas — causing tooth decay, gum disease, implant loss — and loss of your investment.
Ask your hygienist about using a floss threader, tufted floss, or a water flosser to make cleaning your bridge as easy as possible.
Get Better Coverage on Your Bridge Treatment
With dental insurance covering only $1,000-$1,500 annually, you may find that a dental bridge exhausts your insurance budget. Also, most dental insurance plans apply a 6-12 month waiting period on restorative treatments like bridges. Good news: unlike insurance, dental discount plans don’t have annual limits or waiting periods. At LowerMyDentalBills.com, we can help you find a plan that will help you afford your bridge.