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Understanding Dental Bridges: Are They Truly Permanent?

Toronto Smile Centre

Understanding Dental Bridges: Are They Truly Permanent?

Ever wondered about the permanence of dental bridges? If you've lost a tooth, you've likely heard of dental bridges, a popular solution to fill that gap and restore your smile. But are these restorations permanent or removable?

The answer isn't as straightforward as you might think. Permanent dental bridges are designed to stay put, but they're not truly "forever" fixtures. They're crafted for long-term use, typically lasting between 5-15 years before needing replacement due to wear and tear.

On the other hand, removable dental bridges offer a different approach, allowing you to take them out as needed. Both types have their merits and drawbacks, and the best choice depends on various factors.

What is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge, as the name suggests, is a device that bridges the gap created by one or more missing teeth. Its principal role is to offer a replacement for missing teeth, restoring the natural function and aesthetics of your smile. A bridge is typically composed of two or more crowns (also known as "abutment teeth"), and a false tooth, or teeth (known as "pontics") that fill the gap. Notably, the materials used for pontics vary, ranging from gold to more visually appealing porcelain that blends seamlessly with your natural teeth.

Types of Dental Bridges

The type of dental bridge that'll be best for you largely depends on your oral health situation. Predominantly, there are four main types of dental bridges:

  1. Traditional Dental Bridges – They are the most common type and consist of one or more pontics held in place by dental crowns. These bridges are typically used when there are natural teeth on each side of the gap.
  2. Cantilever Bridges – These are not too different from traditional bridges, but their installation only involves an adjacent abutment tooth on one side of the missing tooth or teeth.
  3. Maryland Dental Bridges – Also known as a resin-bonded bridge, Maryland bridge uses two natural abutment teeth one on each side of the gap. But, instead of using dental crowns, a framework of either metal or porcelain is used to hold the bridge in place.
  4. Implant-Supported Bridges – They use implants opposed to crowns or frameworks. Typically, one implant is surgically placed for every missing tooth, and these implants hold the bridge in place. If it's not possible to get an implant for every missing tooth, the bridge might have a pontic suspended between two implant-supported crowns.

The process of installing a dental bridge involves several steps. Initially, several dental visits may be required. During the first visit, the abutment teeth are prepared for the crowing. Preparation involves recontouring the teeth by removing a portion of enamel to allow room for a crown to be placed. Impressions of the teeth are made, serving as a model from which the dental lab will create your bridge.

While the permanent bridge is being created, your dentist will provide a temporary bridge to safeguard the exposed gums and teeth. Once your permanent bridge is ready, the temporary one is removed, and the new bridge examined and adjusted for proper fit. Only after multiple visits to ensure proper fit and comfort, the dental bridge is permanently cemented in place.

dental implant head and bridge

Comparing Dental Bridges and Dental Implants

When it comes to options for restoring missing teeth, the two primary choices tend to be dental bridges and dental implants. It's important to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each option to make the most suitable choice for your unique dental circumstances.

Pros and Cons of Dental Bridges

A dental bridge is a dental restoration that literally bridges the gap in your mouth by attaching artificial teeth (pontics) to the remaining natural teeth or dental implants on either side of the gap. On the positive side, dental bridges are a tried and true method of tooth restoration. They offer a relatively quick solution to replacing missing teeth, typically requiring only a few visits to the dentist.

When it comes to fitting and treatment, dental bridges can restore your smile more swiftly than dental implants. They are a cheaper option too, with removable bridges being particularly cost-effective. But, maintenance is essential for their longevity. Daily cleaning, especially around the supporting teeth, aids in preventing gum disease or tooth decay.

On the downside, they create additional stress on the supporting teeth that can potentially lead to complications. They also require the shaping of adjacent natural teeth—which may be healthy—to fit the anchoring crowns used to hold the bridge in place. And though durable, bridges are not as long-lasting as dental implants and usually need replacement after about 5-15 years.

Pros and Cons of Dental Implants

Dental implants are another tooth replacement option, which includes an implant that serves as an artificial root structure, a connecting abutment, and a crown that acts as the artificial tooth. One prime advantage of dental implants is their durability. They are designed to be a permanent solution towards tooth replacement, and with good oral habits, they can last for many years.

Dental implants also help preserve bone mass in the jaw, which can be lost when you have missing teeth. Also, since they stand alone and don't rely on adjacent teeth for support, they can significantly reduce the stress put on other teeth.

But, dental implants do come with some cautions. You must be in good overall health and have sufficient jawbone to support the implant. They require more time and multiple procedures for placement and can be more expensive up front compared to dental bridges.

Remember, both dental bridges and implants come with their unique sets of pros and cons. Your best course of action is to consult with your dentist to determine the most suitable option, keeping in mind factors like your oral health, lifestyle preferences, and budget.

senior man having teeth examination dentist latex gloves probe mirror

Care and Maintenance of Dental Bridges

Daily Care Tips

Good oral hygiene forms the crux of dental bridge care. It is as straightforward as brushing and flossing your teeth daily. Use a fluoride toothpaste that combats tooth decay and a soft-bristle toothbrush that gently cleans your teeth and gums. Invest in special flossers designed for dental bridges – they slide easily between the pontic and underlying gums, ensuring thorough cleaning.

Imbibe habits that promote oral health. Refrain from biting hard food items with your dental bridge, particularly items like ice, hard candy, and bones could potentially damage the bridge material. Consider leading a balanced diet that minimizes the consumption of sugary and sticky foods which pose threats to your teeth and bridge alike.

Maintaining Your Dental Bridges with Toronto Smile Centre

Regular dental visits are crucial for maintaining dental implants effectively. Typically, a visit every six months is recommended, but your dentist may suggest a personalized schedule based on your oral health needs. At Toronto Smile Centre, professional cleanings during these visits ensure the removal of plaque build-up that daily brushing and flossing might miss. Your dentist will also assess the condition of your bridges, identifying any signs of wear and tear. Early detection of potential issues allows for timely preventive action, potentially extending the lifespan of your bridges. Trust Toronto Smile Centre to provide the expert care necessary for maintaining your dental bridges and overall oral health.

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