What Are Dental Bridges?

Dental bridges are a tooth replacement that uses dental crowns on your natural teeth to support one or more replacement teeth and bridge the gap left by lost teeth.

In the past, it was common to make either long bridges supported by many teeth or create dental bridges with support on only one side. However, dental implants are a better treatment option in many cases, so dental bridges these days are usually two dental crowns flanking a single replacement tooth.

Sometimes dentists offer what is known as a Maryland bridge. In this bridge, a replacement tooth is bonded to neighboring teeth using “wings” that extend from the back of the replacement tooth.

Why Replace a Missing Tooth

illustration of a dental bridge

If you have lost one or more teeth, you might be considering not replacing them at all. If you think the problem is just cosmetic, you might consider it of low importance. However, in addition to the cosmetic problem of having a missing tooth, you might experience:

  • Additional stress on other teeth, increasing fracture risk
  • Shifting of teeth
  • Ineffective chewing
  • Poor bite, which can lead to TMJ
  • Challenges cleaning teeth

The bottom line is that if you don’t replace a missing tooth, your risk of losing other teeth increases significantly.

Benefits of Dental Bridges

When you’re considering your options to replace a missing tooth, you might choose a dental bridge because it is:

  • An attractive, natural-looking replacement
  • Fully fixed–it won’t fall out when you talk, bite, or chew
  • Fully functional–bite and chew normally
  • Likely to last a decade or more
  • A nonsurgical option

With a dental bridge, you get a tooth replacement that looks just like your other teeth. The replacement tooth is fused to the crowns subtly so that people won’t see the connection. The dental bridge is bonded to your natural teeth so it’s attached as tightly as any dental crown. You’ll be able to eat normally with your dental bridge. You don’t have to give up any food or take out your bridge at meals.

When properly placed, a dental bridge is a long-lasting restoration. You can count on getting 10 years or more of service from your dental restoration.

And dental bridges are a nonsurgical replacement option. You just need to have crowns placed on your neighboring teeth. If you’ve had a crown placed, you know it’s not a major procedure, and a bridge is not much more than that.

Limitations of Dental Bridges

Dental bridges aren’t perfect for every situation, however. Dental bridges might not be recommended because of these limitations:

  • Require modification of natural teeth
  • Can shorten the life of supporting teeth
  • Only usable in limited situations
  • Don’t stimulate gums and jawbone

Dental bridges use your natural teeth for support. In order to fit the crowns on your natural teeth, we have to remove some of your tooth enamel, which is irreplaceable. As a result of the loss of enamel and the additional forces placed on them, supporting teeth for dental bridges might fail earlier than they might have otherwise.

To try to limit the risk to supporting teeth, we try to place dental bridges only in places where the bite forces aren’t too strong. This means that you might not be able to get a bridge for your lost tooth. It means that we normally only use a bridge to replace one lost tooth flanked by two healthy teeth.

Finally, dental bridges don’t stimulate the jawbone and gums. Over time, this might mean that your body will remove enough jawbone to create a gap under the bridge.

In these cases, dental implants might be better for you than dental bridges.

Let Dr. Siegel Recommend the Best Tooth Replacement Option

If you have lost one or more teeth, it’s important to consider your options. In many cases, dental implants are the best choice. However, there are some situations where a dental bridge is a better choice, such as if you:

  • Don’t have enough bone for a dental implant
  • Want to avoid surgery
  • Have teeth on either side of the gap that could benefit from a dental crown

Dr. Siegel has more than over 35 years of experience placing all types of dental restorations, including dental bridges.