What is a dental bridge?
If you have missing teeth, your dentist can close — or bridge — the gaps in your smile with dental bridges. A dental bridge is a false tooth (called a pontic) that is held in place by the abutment teeth on either side of the gap. Although pontics can be made from a variety of materials such as gold, typically they’re made from porcelain to aesthetically blend in with your natural teeth.
Dental bridge types
There are four main types of dental bridges:
A traditional dental bridge consists of a false tooth or teeth being held in place by dental crowns that have been cemented onto each of the abutment teeth. A traditional bridge is the most popular type of dental bridge and can be used when you have natural teeth on both sides of the gap created by your missing tooth.
Cantilever dental bridge
Although similar to a traditional bridge, the pontic in a cantilever dental bridge is held in place by a dental crown that is cemented to only one abutment tooth. For a cantilever bridge, you only need one natural tooth next to the missing tooth gap.
Maryland dental bridge
Similar to a traditional bridge, Maryland dental bridges employ two natural abutment teeth, one on each side of the gap. However, while a traditional bridge uses dental crowns on the abutment teeth, a Maryland bridge uses a framework of either metal or porcelain that is bonded onto the backs of the abutment teeth.
Like a traditional bridge, a Maryland bridge can only be used when you have a natural tooth on each side of the gap caused by the missing tooth or teeth.
Implant-supported dental bridge
As the name implies, implant-supported bridges use dental implants as opposed to crowns or frameworks. Typically, one implant is surgically placed for every missing tooth, and these implants hold the bridge in position. If one implant for each missing tooth isn’t possible, the bridge may have a pontic suspended between two implant-supported crowns.
Considered the strongest and most stable system, an implant-supported bridge commonly requires two surgeries:
one to embed the implants in the jawbone
a second surgery to place the bridge
It can take a number of months for the procedure to be completely finished.
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