Dental Bridges


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Valentina Nastase

Dental Bridges

Tooth loss can result from severe decay, gum disease, injury, or congenital abnormalities. Regardless of how it occurs, a missing tooth can be detrimental not only to one’s oral health but also to their emotional and psychological well-being. Often seen only as a cosmetic issue, many people fail to understand the full impact of the dire consequences caused by tooth loss. 

When you lose a tooth, the teeth on both sides of the gap are subjected to heavy compression forces and have to bear more chewing load than they can. These forces can severely damage and weaken the neighboring teeth. The surrounding teeth also move or tilt to fill the empty space, causing jaw instability, problems with how your teeth come together (bite), and changes to your face structure. This, in turn, can make it easy for food particles to get stuck in the gap, and as the area is very hard to clean, it encourages the formation of cavities and gum disease. 

Tooth loss can also cause gum issues and problems with speaking and chewing. These changes can directly affect the quality of life and have been shown to be devastating to people’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and social interactions. 

If you have one or more missing teeth, you’re not alone. In fact, tooth loss is a serious problem worldwide, affecting millions of people. Finding the right replacement is the key to maintaining a healthy and beautiful smile, and dental bridges are a popular option. 

Dental bridges offer a natural-looking solution that restores both facial aesthetics and oral function, improving the overall health of your teeth and gums. This article contains everything you need to know about dental bridges, including their types, advantages, eligibility, cost, and care.

What is a dental bridge?

As the name suggests, a dental bridge serves to ‘bridge’ the gap created by missing teeth in your mouth. It consists of an artificial tooth (pontic) that is held in place by the teeth on either side of the space (abutment teeth). 

In some cases, the bridge might be supported by dental implants rather than natural teeth.

What is the procedure for getting a dental bridge?

A dental bridge typically requires the abutment teeth to be ground down and fitted with crowns to provide adequate support to the false tooth (pontic). Depending on your situation and the kind of bridge your dentist makes for you, the number of abutments and pontics in your bridge may vary. 

The abutment teeth can either be your natural teeth or dental crowns, and the pontic can be made from a variety of materials, including gold, metal alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Your dentist can create a custom bridge for you that matches your natural teeth, allowing it to blend seamlessly with your smile.

Who is a candidate for a bridge?

A dental bridge is typically suitable for anyone who has lost one or more teeth and has healthy teeth surrounding the gap. The health of the abutment teeth and the tissues supporting them are the most crucial factors that are considered when determining eligibility for a dental bridge. 

For successful treatment outcomes, a dental bridge needs to be supported by teeth that are in excellent condition. This means that these teeth should ideally have strong bone support, good gum health, and be sturdy enough to support the bridge that is cemented to them. 

Patients with poor oral hygiene, inflamed gums, or extensive bone loss do not make good candidates for dental bridges.  

What are the different types of dental bridges?

There are four basic types of dental bridges, and your dentist will recommend one for you that best suits your needs. They may make this decision based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Your general oral health
  • The number of teeth you’re missing (the size of the gap)
  • The health and condition of the abutment teeth
  • If you have natural teeth or dental implants for abutments
  • The position of the missing teeth in your mouth
  • Your personal expectations and preferences

Traditional bridge

A traditional bridge comprises a false tooth or teeth (pontics) bonded to two natural teeth (abutments) on either side of them that have been fitted with dental crowns. Your dentist uses a specialized resin cement to affix the pontic to the capped abutment teeth. 

This is the most common type of bridge and is typically made of ceramic, porcelain, or metal, depending on the position and span of the gap in your jaw. Having healthy natural teeth on both sides of the empty space is a prerequisite for a traditional bridge.

Downside: To fit dental crowns on the abutment teeth supporting the pontic, your dentist will trim down some of the enamel on those two teeth to make room for the crowns on top. This intentional removal of healthy tooth structure is irreversible as tooth enamel cannot regrow, meaning that those teeth will always require to be covered by dental crowns. 

Cantilever bridge

In contrast to the traditional bridge, which requires at least two abutment teeth for support, a cantilever bridge uses only one crowned abutment tooth. This is usually given in cases where there is no tooth present on either side of the artificial tooth (pontic) or if one of the abutment teeth isn’t healthy enough to support the pontic. 

Downside: As a cantilever bridge is supported only on one side, it isn’t as strong as the other types of bridges. The single tooth can also act as a lever, increasing the risk of complications to the supporting tooth, like fractures or loosened crowns. This is why it is not the recommended option for teeth in the back of the mouth, where the biting force is more concentrated than in the front of the mouth and can exert more stress on the bridge than it can effectively withstand.

Maryland bridge

A Maryland bridge is similar to a traditional bridge in that it is bonded to two natural teeth on both sides of the pontic. However, in contrast to the traditional bridge that employs two dental crowns to hold the pontic, a Maryland bridge is attached to the abutment teeth with the help of a metal or porcelain framework or ‘wings’ that attach to their back surfaces. 

Also known as resin-bonded bridges, these types of bridges are mostly used for replacing missing teeth at the front of the mouth, where the biting forces are less heavy. They are considered a much more conservative replacement option as they do not require the adjacent teeth to be cut and prepared for crowns. Instead, the ‘wings’ or ‘flaps’ of the bridge connect to the backs of the adjacent teeth, so they are not visible from the front. 

Downside: Although Maryland bridges preserve more tooth structure, they’re not as strong or durable as other bridges. Their bonding mechanism to the abutment teeth is less secure and, hence, more susceptible to breakage. 

Implant-supported bridge

As opposed to using natural teeth for abutments, an implant-supported bridge relies on the support of dental implants to hold the bridge in place. Ideally, one implant replaces one missing tooth 

Your dentist may recommend an implant-supported bridge if you have large gaps of more than three missing teeth in a row or if they suspect that you might exert too much pressure on individual unconnected implants. The lifespan and sturdiness of an implant-supported bridge are both impressively high. 

Two surgical procedures are commonly required to fit an implant-supported bridge: first, drilling the dental implants into the bone and then placing the bridge on the implants. This whole process takes a couple of months to complete.

Downside: Despite being the most secure and durable tooth replacement option, an implant-supported bridge is comparatively more invasive and expensive compared to a traditional or Maryland bridge. It is also a longer process, taking anywhere from three to six months for your implants to fuse with your jawbone and become ready to support a bridge. 

If you are in Montreal and interested in a dental bridge as a tooth replacement option, visit our website to book a consultation. We look forward to assisting you in any way we can. Let us help you take the best care of your oral health.

What can you expect from a dental bridge procedure?

The procedure for a dental bridge depends on the kind of bridge you’re getting. 

Traditional and cantilever bridge

The process for both the traditional and cantilever bridges is the same, but for a cantilever bridge, only one abutment tooth will need to be prepared and crowned.

First Visit

  • Administrating anesthesia

To keep you comfortable and minimize discomfort during the procedure, your dentist will inject local anesthesia into your gums.

  • Preparing the abutment teeth

Next, they will trim down some of the enamel on your abutment teeth on either side of the gap to prepare them for dental crowns.

  • Taking dental impressions

Your dentist will then take an impression of your teeth with a digital intra-oral scanner. The images obtained through the scanner are then sent to a dental lab, where a lab technician will create your permanent bridge.

Depending on the kind of bridge you are getting, your restoration may also be fabricated the same day at Blanc Dentaire using in-house state-of-the-art CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) technology.

  • Placing a temporary bridge

The permanent dental bridge takes about 2–4 weeks to get ready. Until then, you will receive a temporary bridge that will protect your teeth and look just like real teeth.

Second Visit

  • Removing the temporary bridge

When your permanent bridge is ready, you will be called in for an appointment, and your dentist will remove the temporary restoration. 

  • Trying the new permanent dental bridge

You will try on the permanent bridge, and your dentist will check to see if it sits comfortably on your teeth and looks and feels good. 

  • Cementation of dental bridge

If the size and fit of the new restoration are acceptable, your dentist will cement it to the abutment teeth using a strong adhesive.

Maryland bridge

A Maryland bridge requires significantly less preparation than traditional and cantilever bridges, as no crowns are involved. Instead of dental crowns, it bonds to the adjacent teeth with ‘wings.’

First Visit

  • Preparing the abutment teeth

A Maryland bridge requires only minimal preparation of the teeth on both sides of the gap. This usually involves removing a negligible layer of enamel to fit the ‘wings’ or the framework of the bridge. 

  • Taking dental impressions

Digital impressions of your teeth are then taken and either sent to a lab for the fabrication of the permanent restoration or used to create it in-office using CAD/CAM technology and advanced dental milling machines.

Second Visit

  • Bonding the permanent bridge

When the permanent bridge is ready, your dentist will apply a dental etchant (an acid) to the backs of the abutment teeth and bond the Maryland bridge using a composite resin as an adhesive.

Implant-supported bridge

You will need to come in for multiple visits for an implant-supported bridge. 

First Visit

  • Placing dental implants

The first appointment involves a surgical procedure in which your dentist drills an implant into your jawbone. They will let it heal and fuse completely with the surrounding bone before proceeding, which may take several months.

Second Visit

  • Attaching impression copings

Once your implant has integrated well with your bone, your dentist will attach an impression coping to your implants. Impression copings are temporary abutments that are placed to take an accurate impression of the implant site. 

  • Taking dental impressions

Dental impressions are then taken with the copings in place and sent to a dental lab for the fabrication of the permanent dental bridge. 

  • Removing the abutments

Your dentist will remove the impression copings while you wait for the bridge to get ready and arrive from the lab. 

Third Visit

  • Placing the implant abutments with the attached dental bridge

Once your final implant-supported bridge has arrived, your dentist will attach implant abutments to the implant posts and then place the bridge on top. They will check the fit of the bridge and how it sits on your implants.

  • Cementing the bridge

If all is well, your dentist will cement the bridge in place with dental cement or small screws. 

To learn more about the various kinds of procedures and techniques for the installation of dental bridges, click here to book a consultation online or call us at (514)-933-3368 or (514)-564-4554.

Advantages of dental bridges

Getting a dental bridge can provide several benefits, including helping prevent some of the complications that occur as a result of tooth loss, improving bite and chewing function, enhancing appearance, and restoring confidence. A dental bridge can:

  • Restore your natural smile
  • Regain your ability to chew properly
  • Restore your normal speech pattern and pronunciation
  • Maintain your facial structure and aesthetics
  • Prevent the drifting of neighboring teeth into the empty spaces
  • Restore your normal bite (the way your teeth contact when you close your mouth) by allowing an even distribution of the forces in your mouth

For more information about dental bridges, similar procedures, or alternative options, we encourage you to book an appointment and have our team of experts meet with you for a personalized one-on-one consultation. You have the right to make an informed decision, and we want to make sure you’re very well-informed to do so. 

Risks and drawbacks of dental bridges

As dental bridges are tooth-supported, they do not stimulate natural bone growth under them and, hence, do not prevent the deterioration of the jawbone that occurs after tooth loss. 

Issues with dental bridges may arise if care is not taken to maintain excellent oral hygiene. If the abutment teeth and the bridge are not cleaned properly, plaque and food debris may initiate tooth decay underneath the crowns and cause gum inflammation, severely damaging the supporting teeth and weakening the bridge. 

If a bridge is placed on abutment teeth that aren’t strong or sturdy enough to provide adequate support to it, they are susceptible to fracture. This is why it is crucial for your dentist to evaluate the status of the supporting teeth before deciding to opt for a dental bridge.

How long does a dental bridge last?

Bridges can last more than ten years if taken care of. The success of a dental bridge is largely dependent on the strength of the teeth that support it and the quality of oral hygiene that you maintain. You will, however, eventually need to get it replaced.

How to take care of your dental bridge?

The best way to make your dental bridge last long is to practice good oral hygiene habits. Here are a few tips:

  • Brush twice a day, every day, for two minutes using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Don’t rush this step. Take the time to brush each surface of every tooth carefully. This can stave off tooth decay and remove any debris stuck around the gums or bridge, effectively preventing problems to the bridge in the long term. 

To thoroughly clean hard-to-reach areas around the dental bridge, you can use small interdental brushes that are designed to clean between teeth.

  • Floss regularly, especially around your dental bridge. Flossing is the best way to remove plaque and food debris from the hidden nooks and crannies between your teeth and can really improve the long-term success of your dental bridge. If you’re not sure how to floss correctly, ask your dentist to show you and then incorporate it into your oral hygiene regimen. 
  • Rinse with fluoride mouthwash occasionally and use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is shown to protect the enamel against decay and also reverse some of the early damage. 
  • Schedule regular dental appointments. The importance of routine checkups cannot be overstated. These appointments allow your dentist to detect and fix any potential problems beforehand, helping you maintain excellent oral health. Get your teeth professionally cleaned every six months or as recommended by your dentist. 
  • Take care of your diet. Avoid foods with high sugar and starchy content, as they can leave behind hard-to-clean residue that can turn into acid and cause tooth decay. 

Steer clear of hard and overly sticky or chewy foods, like chewy candy, ice chips, pens, nuts, or anything that can damage your bridge.

When to see your dentist immediately?

See your dentist as soon as possible if you experience any of the following:

  • Pain while eating
  • Ulcers, sores, or tender areas in the mouth that don’t heal within a week or two
  • Swollen or bleeding gums, especially after brushing or flossing
  • Gum recession
  • Severe bad breath (halitosis)
  • Suddenly feeling sensitivity to hot and cold foods or drinks
  • Toothache
  • Loose or mobile teeth

The Bottom Line

To sum up, dental bridges offer a reliable and aesthetically pleasing solution for individuals with missing teeth. By restoring not only the appearance but also the functionality of a full set of teeth, dental bridges play a crucial role in maintaining oral health. 

They prevent the shifting of adjacent teeth and maintain tooth alignment, improve chewing and speaking abilities, and enhance overall dental hygiene and facial appearance. With various types of bridges available, including traditional, cantilever, Maryland, and implant-supported, patients can find an option tailored to their specific needs and expectations. As with any dental procedure, it is important to consult with a dental professional to determine the most suitable choice and to ensure the longevity and success of the dental bridge through proper care and regular check-ups. 

Getting a smile that you can rock with confidence again is within your reach! With so many types of bridges to choose from, you and your dentist can find one that is the most suitable for you. At Blanc Dentaire, our team of skilled dentists provides safe, reliable, and comfortable dental services to cater to the needs of our valued patients with promising results. If you are in Montreal, do not hesitate to get in touch, and let us take care of your oral health.