One common means of replacing a missing tooth is through the use of a dental bridge. Although most people refer to a bridge as if it’s a single tooth replacement option, in fact there are a number of different types of bridges that can be used, and the type that is used will depend in part on the circumstances surrounding your tooth replacement requirements.
A traditional fixed dental bridge is what most people think of when they think of a bridge. In this scenario, a single tooth or multiple teeth need to be replaced because they are missing and the replacement tooth or teeth are secured in the mouth by attaching them to both adjacent teeth on either side of the open space. To do this, the healthy natural teeth surrounding the open space must be sufficiently filed down in order to serve as the base for a dental crown. The crowns will be permanently secured on these adjacent teeth and the replacement tooth, or pontic, will be attached to the supporting crowns. Once secured, the span of teeth will be permanently affixed and will cover the gap left by the missing tooth.
In some cases, there is only a single adjacent tooth available for attachment next to the area where the missing tooth needs to be replaced. In this instance, the pontic cannot be attached on both sides of the gap through the use of an attached crown, but rather can only be attached on a single side. This option is referred to as a cantilever bridge. Although the process to prepare the tooth and secure the replacement tooth is similar to a traditional fixed bridge, it is less secure over time since it is only secured on one side.
Another less common type of dental bridge that is used to replace missing teeth is called a Maryland bridge. This option is typically used for the replacement of front teeth and entails the use of a metal band that is bonded to the back surfaces of the adjacent natural teeth in order to hold the replacement tooth firmly in place.
One other option that is gaining in popularity for patients in need of tooth replacement who do not have adequate natural tooth structure to support the bridge is the use of dental implants, which serve as the base to secure the structure permanently in the mouth. The implant is affixed into the jawbone, allowed to heal sufficiently, and then the post that has been implanted can serve as the secure base upon which a crown is placed to secure the bridge.
Although traditional fixed bridges and implant-supported bridges offer the most strength and longevity, with proper care, dental bridges can be expected to last for a decade or more.
For more information about dental bridge options, contact Gentle Dental in Queens at 718-461-0100.