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What to Know When Considering a Dental Bridge for Your Missing Tooth

If you have missing teeth, you've probably considered a dental bridge at least once. Dental bridges are a common way to replace missing teeth and return your beautiful smile. Before you schedule an appointment, however, check out these five important facts about dental bridges, so you can make an informed decision.

Traditional Dental Bridges Affect the Surrounding Teeth

Like a real bridge, dental bridges need supports to hold them in place. In most cases, your surrounding teeth are used as the support pillars. These surrounding teeth are ground down to hold the bridge. The bridge is then cemented in place, and the false tooth slides into the hole. This process forever alters the healthy teeth beside the missing tooth, and if you ever decide to get rid of the bridge, you'll still need crowns to protect the filed-down teeth. Maryland bonded bridges, however, do not require healthy teeth to be filed. Instead, these bridges use wings that are bonded to the sides of the surrounding teeth. They cost about the same as traditional bridges, but they are more prone to break.

You Can Still Get a Bridge if You Only Have Teeth on One Side

In ideal situations, you'll have at least one healthy tooth on each side of the missing tooth to durably hold the bridge. However, if you have lost some of your back teeth, you may only have a tooth on one side of the bridge. In this instance, a cavalier bridge can be used. In many cases, cavalier bridges use more than one tooth on the same side to support the bridge. This helps add support and take strain off the support teeth.

Most Bridges Only Fix the Surface Problems

Bridges fill in missing teeth to give you back a full smile. They also make it easy to chew again, but dental bridges only fix surface problems. If you have a lot of missing teeth, your jawbone is no longer stimulated the way it used to be. This allows it to shrink. Overtime, a mouthful of missing teeth can even affect the shape of your face, causing your chin to rotate upward and forward. Bridges don't fix this problem. They only sit on the top of your gums, and they don't stimulate your jawbone. This is why they are not the best option if you have a lot of missing teeth.

Implant-Supported Bridges Are the Best Option but Cost the Most

A better option, especially if you have a lot of missing teeth, is an implant-supported bridge. Instead of using your existing teeth, implant-supported bridges use implants to support your dental bridge. The titanium roots used with implants sit inside your jaw and actually fuse to the bone. This stimulates your jaw bone and gives it something to support. As a result, your jawbone stops shrinking. On the downside, implant-supported bridges are expensive, costing about $8,500 for a 3–4 tooth bridge. Traditional bridges cost about $700 to $1,500 per tooth.

Most Bridges Don't Last Forever

You may, however, end up saving money in the long run. Normal dental bridges don't last forever. In most cases, you can expect yours to last five to 15 years before you'll need to shell out more money. With proper care, however, an implant-supported bridge can last the rest of your life, making it a one-time investment.

Dental bridges are great if you only have a few missing teeth. They are affordable, but they don't last forever. If you have a lot of missing teeth or want a long-term investment, however, choose implant-supported bridges. If you're ready to schedule your consultation, contact a cosmetic dentist like Christopher L. Schneider, DMD.