Introduction: Dental Bridges
This section of About Cosmetic Dentistry will help you to learn more about dental bridges. You’ll learn how the procedure is performed, what dental bridges cost and you’ll have the chance to see photos taken before and after the dental bridge installation. In addition, you will be able to read personal experiences from patients and discuss bridges with other patients and potential patients. You can use the outline below to jump to a specific point in the dental bridge section, or you can use the “Continue” arrow button below to begin reading.
JUST WHAT IS A DENTAL BRIDGE?
What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is a false tooth or teeth, known as a pontic, which is fused between two porcelain crowns to fill in the area left by a missing tooth or teeth. The two crowns holding it in place that are attached onto your teeth on each side of the false tooth. This is known as a fixed bridge. This procedure is used to replace one or more missing teeth. Fixed bridges cannot be taken out of your mouth as you might do with removable partial dentures.
In areas of your mouth that are under less stress, such as your front teeth, a cantilever bridge may be used. Cantilever bridges are used when there are teeth on only one side of the open space. Bridges can reduce your risk of gum disease, help correct some bite issues and even improve your speech. Bridges require your commitment to serious oral hygiene, but will last as many ten years or more.
WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR DENTAL BRIDGES?
If you have missing teeth and have good oral hygiene practices, you should discuss this procedure with your cosmetic dentist. If spaces are left unfilled, they may cause the surrounding teeth to drift out of position. Additionally, spaces from missing teeth can cause your other teeth and your gums to become far more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.
PROCEDURE DESCRIPTION: DENTAL BRIDGES
Overview of dental bridge procedure
If you have a space from a missing tooth or teeth a bridge will be custom made to fill in the space with a false tooth or teeth. The false tooth is attached by the bridge to the two other teeth around the space – bridging them together.
How is dental bridge accomplished?
Your cosmetic dentist will prepare your teeth on either side of the space for the false tooth. You will be given a mild anesthetic to numb the area, and the cosmetic dentist will remove the an area of each abutment (teeth on either side of the space) to accommodate for the thickness of the crown. When these teeth already have fillings, part of the filling may be left in place to help as a foundation for the crown.
The dentist will then make an impression, which will serve as the model from which the bridge, false tooth and crowns will be made by a dental laboratory. A temporary bridge will be placed for you to wear while your bridge is being made until your next visit. This temporary bridge will serve to protect your teeth and gums.
Your cosmetic dentist may have you use a Flipper appliance. A Flipper is a false tooth to temporarily take the place of a missing tooth before the permanent bridge is placed. A Flipper can be attached via either a wire or a plastic piece that fits in the roof of your mouth. Flippers are meant to be a temporary solution while awaiting the permanent bridge.
On your second appointment, the temporary bridge will be removed. Your new permanent bridge will be fitted and checked and adjusted for any bite discrepancies. Your new bridge will then be cemented to your teeth.
TYPES OF DENTAL BRIDGES AVAILABLE
There are three types of dental bridges:
Traditional Fixed Bridge
A dental bridge is a false tooth, known as a pontic, which is fused between two porcelain crowns to fill in the area left by a missing tooth. There two crowns holding it in place that are attached onto your teeth on each side of the false tooth. This is known as a fixed bridge. This procedure is used to replace one or more missing teeth. Fixed bridges cannot be taken out of your mouth as you might do with removable partial dentures.
Resin Bonded Bridges
The resin bonded is primarily used for your front teeth. Less expensive, this bridge is best used when the abutment teeth are healthy and don’t have large fillings. The false tooth is fused to metal bands that are bonded to the abutment teeth with a resin which is hidden from view. This type of bridge reduces the amount of preparation on the adjacent teeth.
In areas of your mouth that are under less stress, such as your front teeth, a cantilever bridge may be used. Cantilever bridges are used when there are teeth on only one side of the open space. This procedure involves anchoring the false tooth to one side over one or more natural and adjacent teeth.
HOW MUCH DO DENTAL BRIDGES COST?
The average cost of a single fixed bridge depends on many factors, from which region you’re in to how many and which type of bridges are needed. Typically dental bridge cost ranges from $500-900 per tooth. Dental insurance typically pays for about half of the cost of the bridge. This is a cost per tooth in the bridge, and doesn’t include the costs for any anchoring crowns on either side of the bridge.
In the case of a Maryland type bridge, costs range from $250. to $550. for each attaching wing and $600. to $1200. for each false tooth or pontic.
PROS AND CONS OF GETTING A DENTAL BRIDGE
Bridges are natural in appearance, and usually require only two visits to your dentist. If you maintain good oral hygiene, your fixed bridge should last as many as ten years or more.
It is common for your teeth to be mildly sensitive to extreme temperatures for a few weeks after the treatment. The build up of bacteria formed from food acids on your teeth and gums can become infected if proper oral hygiene is not followed.
BEFORE AND AFTER PICTURES - DENTAL BRIDGES
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DETERMINING THE COLOR FOR YOUR DENTAL BRIDGE
When considering dental bridges a common question is how white the dental bridge should be. Usually, the answer is to whiten your natural teeth to either the level of whiteness you want or to the brightest they can be. Your cosmetic dentist will then have the dental bridge made to that color. Teeth are of course not monochromatic, so typically more than one color is used to create a very natural look. This color variation is critical in avoiding fake or artificial looking teeth. It is the internal contrast of colors that help create vitality. The internal play of light on the porcelain in the restoration helps to create this vitality. Surface texture is also very important, and helps to break up light reflections and make the dental bridge look more natural. Depending on the type of dental bridge you’re considering, it’s important that the crowns anchoring the bridge match both the dental bridge and the color of your natural teeth.
There is no one standard system in the dental field to measure and determine tooth color. The most often heard about, however, is the Vita shade guide. This guide divides tooth color into four basic shade ranges:
A (reddish brown)
In the A range there are five levels of darkness. Ranges B, C and D, each have four levels.
Not all of your teeth are the same natural color. Usually your eye teeth tend to be darker than the others, your front teeth are typically the whitest, and molars tend to be a shade between the two. The goal for everyone is to achieve their individual optimum whiteness while still looking natural.
Most dentists will show you a shade chart (like the above mentioned Vita Shade Guide) for you to pick from. Keep in mind, with a good cosmetic dentist this is merely a starting point. Other considerations when determining the color of dental bridges for each patient are your complexion, hair color, the color of your natural teeth and even your eye color.