Scenarios in Which General Dentists Recommend Bridges for Patients

No one enjoys having missing teeth, or the gap that loss may create in a smile, but general dentists may be able to fit a patient for something called a bridge. A bridge is called such because it literally bridges the gap between the teeth. These artificial teeth are also known as pontics, and in years past they were created from gold or other materials. Today’s pontics are typically made from porcelain or porcelain over steel and can be colored to match teeth to which they are abutted on each side.

Four reasons dentists may suggest a bridge for a patient

There are certain patients who are not good candidates to receive a bridge. These include people whose other surrounding teeth are not sound and do not provide a solid base for which to attach the bridge. There are other patients, however, who are great candidates, and there are certain situations in which a bridge is a good alternative to a set of dentures.

Two natural teeth: Traditional bridge

This works well for those patients who have natural teeth on either side. It takes a strong natural tooth to hold a bridge securely in place by cementing a crown at each end over the natural tooth. This provides the needed strength and support. Patients need teeth that are sound enough to attach the bridge to.

No natural teeth: Implant-supported bridge

In this scenario, an artificial root or implant is placed in the gums in place of missing anchor teeth. It can take a couple of months for the implant to heal sufficiently to support the added stress of the bridge. This method is very strong and requires a couple of minor oral surgeries: One to implant the posts into the jaw and a second one to place the bridge. General dentists may consult with an oral surgeon in this case.

One natural tooth: Cantilever bridge

This type of bridge is held in place only on one end, hence the name “cantilever.” It is a dental crown cemented to a single abutment tooth. Dentists may suggest this as a good option for those who do not have many sound teeth of their own to fasten the pontics to.

Two natural teeth: Maryland bridge

This type of bridge is very similar to the traditional style bridge and must also be used by patients who have sound natural teeth. The difference comes with the fact that the ends of the bridge, rather than the crowns that are cemented over the natural teeth, have a metal framework, which is cemented in place at each end on the backs of the natural teeth.

Conclusion:

For those patients who may be good candidates to receive bridgework, general dentists can help to make the decision as to what type is the best fit and help prepare the mouth for the bridge. For those who are younger or have most of their own teeth, a bridge can be a great alternative to a full denture, restore a patient's ability to chew normally and help improve a smile.

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