Healthy Smiles, Happier Families

Dental Bridges

Dental BridgesWhen a permanent tooth is missing from your mouth, either because it had to be removed or was damaged in an accident, it causes more problems than just aesthetics.

It puts pressure on other teeth, makes them work harder and can increase the risk of tooth decay, gum disease and shifting or crooked teeth.

Replacing the missing tooth with dental bridges can restore the beauty of your smile and reduce the serious risks to your jaw and other teeth.

Come to our Mercer Island office near Seattle for a consultation with Dr. Brad Judy to find out the best solution for your missing tooth and whether a bridge is the solution you need.

How Dental Bridges Work

A bridge replaces a missing tooth by filling that space with a support structure and an artificial tooth so that your smile looks as it should. Bridges may be fixed or removable. A removable dental bridge is also called a “partial” or “partial denture.” Permanent bridges are also called fixed partial dentures. A bridge is anchored by the teeth on either side of the gap by placing a crown on each of these “abutments.” Most bridges consist of three structures – the two abutments and the middle piece called a pontic.

How are Dental Bridges Made?

There are four types of dental bridges that can be chosen depending on what’s going on in your mouth:   

  • Traditional bridge – This is the most common and is made with a crown on either side of the missing tooth and a replacement tooth between.
  • Maryland bonded bridge – Named for the dental school where it was invented, it’s used when a front tooth is missing. It uses wings as supports that attach to the back of the surrounding teeth to support the replacement artificial tooth. It is also called a “resin-retained bridge.”
  • Cantilever bridge – This is a bridge used when an artificial replacement tooth can only be supported from one side. This solution is best for a tooth at the back of the mouth or when only one tooth is available for support or in a less stressful area of your bite. A cantilever bridge can be anchored by two crown with the artificial tooth at the end or just one crown and a pontic.
  • Implant-supported bridge – If you’re missing more than one tooth side by side, this bridge can help restore the structure. It involves installing an implant on either side leaving a gap. Crowns are placed over the implants and a pontic is placed in the middle. The implants help maintain the integrity of the jaw.

When is a Dental Bridge the Best Choice?

Bridges are recommended when there’s a missing tooth, or your tooth is severely decayed or broken to the extent that it’s not stable enough for a crown. You don’t want to leave a gap in your bite from a missing tooth. A gap encourages your other teeth to shift which can lead to bite problems, gum disease and even a painful and chronic temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Worse, a missing tooth can cause the jaw area to recede which can lead to loss of other nearby teeth and advanced tooth and gum issues that can leave you in pain and looking older than you are because of jaw collapse.

How Long Will Dental Bridges Last?

A fixed bridge can last from a decade or even longer if you take care of it properly. Twice daily brushing and flossing are important to keep the tissues and surrounding teeth healthy as well as the teeth under the crowns that support the bridge. Bridges at the back of the mouth may not last as long as those on the sides and front of the mouth because they are under strain from chewing. The longevity of a bridge depends on the stability of the teeth and jaw bone holding it in place. Dental disease can damage these so regular brushing and flossing are critical along with twice-yearly professional cleanings.

If you are missing a tooth or have a tooth so broken or decayed that it might as well be missing, you should contact us right away to protect your jaw and the health of other nearby teeth. Call (206) 232-5866 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Judy at our Mercer Island, WA dental practice to learn how a bridge can restore your smile and protect the health of your entire mouth.

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Brad Judy