Dental Bridge: What, How, and Where

By Girish Bharwani

A dental bridge is more than just a solution for missing teeth; it’s a gateway to renewed confidence and a restored smile. For residents in the Memorial area of Houston, understanding the fundamentals of dental bridges is the first step toward reclaiming the functionality and aesthetics of your smile.

In this blog, we will explore what dental bridges are, delve into their various types, and discuss the procedures involved in obtaining one. Whether you’re considering a dental bridge for the first time or looking to learn more about your existing restoration, this blog will provide you with the essential information you need.

What Exactly Is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a custom-made replacement for one or more missing teeth that literally “bridges” the gap in your smile. At its core, a bridge comprises one or more artificial teeth, known as pontics, which are held in place by the teeth on either side.

Take it as a bridge over a river: just as a bridge connects both riverbanks, a dental bridge connects the gap in your smile caused by missing teeth. Anchored securely on either side by your natural teeth, or sometimes implants, these artificial teeth (pontics) fill the empty space, restoring the continuity of your smile. Just as a well-constructed bridge supports heavy footfalls and withstands the tests of time, a dental bridge provides a durable and reliable foundation for chewing, speaking, and smiling confidently, withstanding the tests of time.

Four Types of Dental Bridges

Dental bridges come in four varieties, each designed to serve different dental needs. Here’s a closer look at four common types of dental bridges:

  • Traditional Dental Bridges: This is the most popular type of dental bridge. Traditional bridges consist of one or more pontics (artificial teeth) and are held in place by dental crowns that are cemented onto the abutment teeth (the natural teeth on either side of the gap). This type of bridge is used when you have natural teeth on both sides of the gap, created by the missing tooth or teeth.
  • Cantilever Bridges: Similar to traditional bridges, cantilever bridges are used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth gap. This setup involves anchoring the bridge to one or more abutment teeth on just one side, with the pontic extending out without support on the other end. Cantilever bridges are less common and typically not recommended for the back of the mouth where they can put too much force on other teeth.
  • Maryland Bonded Bridges (also known as a resin-bonded bridge or a Maryland bridge): These bridges utilize a metal or porcelain framework that is bonded onto the backs of two adjacent natural teeth. Unlike traditional bridges, Maryland bridges do not require crowns on the abutment teeth. This makes them a less invasive option and is commonly used to replace front teeth.
  • Implant-Supported Bridges: As the name suggests, implant-supported bridges use dental implants rather than crowns or frameworks. One implant is placed for each missing tooth, and these implants hold the bridge in place. This option is considered the most stable and robust method of bridging gaps, especially when several teeth have gone missing.

Procedures & Timeline for Getting Dental Bridges

Getting a dental bridge involves a series of steps, which can vary depending on the type of bridge chosen. Here’s what you can expect during the process of getting a dental bridge at GB Dentistry under the expert care of Dr. Bharwani:

Traditional or Cantilever Bridge

  1. Initial Consultation: Dr. Bharwani examines your teeth to determine the suitability of a traditional or cantilever bridge. This includes X-rays and impressions to ensure a precise fit.
  2. Preparation of Abutment Teeth: During your first visit, the abutment teeth are reshaped by removing a portion of enamel to allow room for a crown to be placed over them.
  3. Impression Making: Impressions of the teeth are taken, which serve as a model from which the dental lab will create your bridge, pontic, and crowns.
  4. Temporary Bridge Fitting: A temporary bridge is fitted to protect the exposed teeth and gums while the bridge is being made.
  5. Second Visit – Bridge Fitting: In about two to four weeks, your permanent bridge will be ready. Dr. Bharwani will remove the temporary bridge and check the fit of the new bridge. Adjustments are made as necessary.
  6. Cementing: Once a proper fit is confirmed, the bridge is cemented into place.

Maryland Bridge

  1. Tooth Preparation: Unlike traditional types, the adjacent teeth need minimal preparation. Your dentist at GB Dentistry will slightly roughen the back of the adjacent teeth to enhance the bonding process.
  2. Bridge Creation and Fitting: The process from impression to fitting a Maryland bridge generally follows the same timeline as traditional bridges, but with less impact on the abutment teeth.
  3. Bonding: The bridge is then securely bonded to the back of the adjacent teeth.

Implant-Supported Bridge

  1. Implant Placement: Dental implants are placed in the jawbone to serve as the base for the bridge. This surgery requires a healing period that may last several months to allow for osseointegration (where the implant integrates with the bone).
  2. Abutment and Bridge Fitting: After healing, abutments are placed on the implants. Impressions are taken for the bridge. Once ready, the bridge is placed and secured over the abutments.
  3. Follow-Up Visits: Additional visits may be required to check the fit of the bridge and to make adjustments.

The entire process for getting a dental bridge can range from a few weeks for traditional and Maryland bridges to several months for implant-supported bridges, primarily due to the healing time required for implants.

Throughout every step, Dr. Bharwani and the team at GB Dentistry in the Memorial area ensure that each patient receives thorough, personalized care.

Benefits & Drawbacks of a Dental Bridge

Benefits of a Dental Bridge

Dental bridges offer several advantages, making them a popular choice for those looking to restore their smile after losing one or more teeth. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Restores Aesthetics: Bridges help restore the appearance of a full and healthy smile, improving confidence and self-esteem.
  • Enhances Functionality: They enable better chewing and speaking abilities by replacing missing teeth.
  • Prevents Misalignment: Bridges prevent remaining teeth from shifting, which could lead to bite issues or other oral health problems.
  • Distributes Bite Force Evenly: By replacing missing teeth, bridges help distribute the forces in your bite more evenly.
  • Minimal Surgery Required: Except for implant-supported bridges, most dental bridges do not require surgery, making them less invasive than other restorative procedures like implants.

Drawbacks of a Dental Bridge

While dental bridges are highly beneficial, there are some drawbacks to consider:

  • Durability Concerns: Bridges typically last five to fifteen years, depending on the type and care, and will eventually need to be replaced.
  • Potential for Damage to Natural Teeth: The abutment teeth that support the bridge undergo preparation, which may involve removing part of the tooth structure, making them potentially weaker.
  • Risk of Decay: If the bridge and underlying teeth are not properly maintained, there can be an increased risk of decay and gum disease around the abutment teeth.
  • Aesthetic Limitations: While dental bridges look natural, the aesthetic result may not be as perfect as with dental implants, particularly if the gum line recedes over time.
  • Requires Healthy Supporting Teeth: Bridges rely on adjacent healthy teeth for support. If these teeth are damaged or decayed, the bridge’s stability can be compromised.

By weighing these benefits and drawbacks, patients at GB Dentistry can make a well-informed decision about whether a dental bridge is the right solution for their dental needs. Dr. Bharwani is always available to discuss these options, ensuring that each patient receives the best possible care.

Let Dr. Bharwani Help

Choosing the right solution for missing teeth is a significant decision that affects not only your oral health but also your overall well-being and confidence. Dr. Bharwani and the team at GB Dentistry in Memorial, Houston, are dedicated to providing personalized, comprehensive care to help you make the best decision for your dental health.

If you are considering a dental bridge or need expert advice on your options for replacing missing teeth, Dr. Bharwani is here to assist. With extensive experience in restorative dentistry, Dr. Bharwani can evaluate your specific needs and recommend the most suitable type of dental bridge, ensuring that you receive a solution that looks natural, feels comfortable, and serves you well for years to come.

Key Benefits of Consulting Dr. Bharwani:

  • Expert Guidance: Benefit from Dr. Bharwani’s expertise in choosing the right type of bridge based on your unique dental structure and health.
  • Personalized Care: Each patient’s dental plan is tailored specifically to their needs, ensuring personalized and effective treatment.
  • High-Quality Materials: Only the finest materials are used to create durable and aesthetically pleasing dental bridges that complement your natural teeth.
  • Follow-Up Support: Dr. Bharwani believes in comprehensive care, which includes meticulous follow-up to ensure your dental health remains optimal.

Whether you’re just beginning to explore dental bridges or are ready for a replacement, let Dr. Bharwani help you navigate your dental journey. Request an appointment with Dr. Bharwani today and take the first step towards a brighter, more confident smile. You can like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram as well.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Bridges

How long does it take to get used to a dental bridge?

Most patients adjust to their new dental bridge within a few weeks. Initially, it may feel a bit unusual to have the bridge, especially when eating or speaking, but this sensation typically goes away as you become used to the bridge.

How often does a dental bridge need to be replaced?

On average, dental bridges can last between 5 to 15 years, depending on the type of bridge, the materials used, and how well it is maintained. Regular check-ups with GB Dentistry and good oral hygiene can extend the life of your bridge.

Are dental bridges noticeable?

Dental bridges are designed to look like your natural teeth and are custom-made to match the color and shape of your existing teeth. When our expert dentists in Memorial take care of it, they are not easily noticeable and can enhance the overall appearance of your smile.

Can I eat normally with a dental bridge?

Yes, after a brief adjustment period, you should be able to eat normally with your dental bridge. Dr. Bharwani advises starting with softer foods and gradually reintroducing harder foods as you become more comfortable with the bridge.

How do I care for my dental bridge?

Caring for a dental bridge is similar to caring for your natural teeth. Brush twice a day, floss daily, and use an antiseptic mouthwash to help prevent decay and gum disease. Special flosses and other interdental cleaners can help clean hard-to-reach areas around the bridge.

Is getting a dental bridge painful?

At GB Dentistry, the dental bridge procedure is usually performed with local anesthesia, so it should not be painful. Some mild discomfort or sensitivity may occur after the anesthesia wears off, but this can typically be managed with some over-the-counter pain relievers.

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