Dental Bridge

Dental Bridges in Lorton, Woodbridge, and Stafford, Virginia

We provide several types of dental bridges. Impact Dental Care offers its patients a detailed consultation on their dental care options.

What’s a Dental Bridge?

A bridge is a fixed partial denture prosthetic that can be an effective solution in cases of partial tooth loss.

A dental bridge typically consists of three or more attached crowns fused together. The crown in the center replaces your missing tooth. The crowns on either end fit over the teeth adjacent to the gap to hold the replacement tooth in position. Dental bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants.

The artificial replacement tooth is called a “pontic”. The healthy adjacent teeth, called abutments, provide support on either side.

These can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials.

A dental bridge will hold your other teeth in place and make everyday activities such as eating and talking easier. It can also help preserve your teeth as a lost tooth can cause the remaining teeth to loosen, which may lead to loss of additional teeth. The bridge restores your bite and helps keep the natural shape of your face.

Why Do I Need a Bridge?

Your teeth say a lot about you. This is because your mouth is one of the most prominent features on your face. When people look at your mouth, they make determinations about you. Teeth are made to work together. When you lose a tooth, the nearby teeth may tilt or drift into the empty space. The teeth in the opposite jaw may also shift up or down toward the space. This can affect your bite and place more stress on your teeth and jaw joints, possibly causing pain.

Increased risk of gum disease has proven to be one of the worst side effects of missing teeth and can be minimized with a bridge.

There is a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease for teeth that have tipped or drifted as they are harder to clean. The bone may shrink when tooth is missing. If that happens, it may change the way the jawbone supports the lips and cheeks. Over time this may cause your mouth to sink and your face to look older.

Reasons for a fixed bridge:

  • Fill space of missing teeth
  • Maintain facial shape
  • Prevent teeth from drifting out of natural position
  • Upgrade from a partial denture
  • Restore chewing and speaking ability
  • Restore your smile
  • Distribute the forces in your bite properly by replacing missing teeth

Dental bridge types

There are four main types of bridges, and your dentist will determine which the right option for your situation is. A traditional bridge is the most common type, which includes one or more fake teeth held in place with crowns. These crowns are cemented to the teeth surrounding the tooth that is missing.

Traditional dental bridge

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. This is not very common anymore and is not recommended in the back of the mouth where it can put too much force on other teeth and damage them.

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, 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 and second surgery to place the bridge. It can take a number of months for the procedure to be completely finished.

Dental Bridge Placement Procedure

When you visit our dentist office for a dental bridge, we will begin by conducting an examination and taking X-rays. We need to determine whether your remaining teeth are strong enough to support a bridge. We also need to make sure you do not have any decay or infections. If you do, we will treat the problem before placing your bridge.

The placement of a dental bridge is not a surgical procedure. Your dentist will numb the area of your mouth with local anesthetic, which is usually prefaced by the use of topical numbing jelly and placed on your gums to minimize the discomfort of the injection.

The first step is to prepare the supporting teeth for abutments, followed by taking imprints or scan of your mouth. This ensures that your custom-made bridge will fit properly and feel comfortable. Then your dentist will fabricate a temporary bridge which offers protection to your teeth as you wait for the final bridge to be fabricated in the dental Laboratory. This might take 2-3 weeks.

In second step, your temporary bridge will be removed and the new porcelain or metal bridge will be checked and adjusted for proper fit and bite as needed. If you and your dentist are satisfied then the bridge is cemented into place.

Recovery and Post-procedure Care

After your bridge has been cemented into place, your dentist will provide you with hygiene information to maintain the performance and longevity of your restoration, along with the health of your teeth and gums. A special floss threader will allow you to properly and thoroughly floss the areas surrounding your bridge and between the pontic and underlying gum tissue. It should be used daily to prevent the build-up of plaque and bacteria. Proper brushing with fluoride toothpaste should be performed at least twice each day. See your dentist or hygienist regularly for checkups and professional cleaning.

Dental Care for Dental Bridge

To get the maximum benefits from your dental bridge, to remove or lessen any dental health problems you may incur while wearing your dental bridge, we recommend the following care:

  • You should brush your teeth daily with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush to eliminate wedged food between your teeth and the bridge.
  • You should floss daily, mindful of the hard-to-reach places between the dental bridge and its adjacent teeth. Use water pick in between teeth.
  • You should have your teeth cleaned every six months.
  • You should watch the amount of sugar and starch in your diet. The residue from these foods may develop into damaging acids to form plaque.
  • You should avoid hard food such as corn, hard or chewy candy, caramel, and nuts.

Some risks associated with getting a bridge

  • Assuming your dentist has used a quality dental lab to produce your crowns, a dental bridge should look very natural. You should even be able to chew normally using the bridge. However, this restoration is by no means perfect. Some of the most worrisome limitations include:
  • Cleaning problems: Cleaning Under the bridge can be challenging, gap between your replacement tooth and your gums could trap food particles and bacteria, creating a smelly and unhealthy situation. Using thread flosser and water pick is very important.
  • Damage to neighboring teeth: Getting a bridge always causes damage to neighboring teeth, because these teeth must be shaved down into pegs to accommodate their crowns and anchor your replacement tooth. If these pegs suffer additional damage due to tooth decay or gum disease, they may become so weak that they can no longer support a bridge. In this case the existing bridge may fail, and you may not be able to get a new one. Instead, you might have to use a partial denture.

How long does a dental bridge last?

The duration of a dental bridge is different for everyone and is impacted by your daily habits. However, fixed dental bridges can last for 15 years or even longer. On the short end, they tend to last for five years. One thing to keep in mind is that the overall health of your mouth will influence the longevity of your bridge. Since natural teeth with dental crowns determine the stability of the bridge, you must keep your natural teeth healthy. We recommend you do so by visiting your dentist for a teeth cleaning and dental examination twice a year. Cleaning process removes built-up plaque to prevent decay and infections. If you develop any oral health problems, it should be addressed immediately to prevent the problems from spreading and your mouth can remain in excellent health.

Will It Be Difficult to Eat with a Dental Bridge?

Replacing missing teeth with a dental bridge should actually make eating easier. Until you become accustomed to the bridge, eat soft foods that have been cut into small pieces.