One of the most popular and most common methods of replacing missing teeth is with a dental bridge. Bridges have been around for many decades, and there is good reason why they are so popular – bridges are usually comfortable, easy to care for, and allow the wearer to eat whatever foods they’d like. The traditional dental bridge consists of one or more artificial teeth set into a metal frame with brackets on each end that connect to adjoining natural teeth (or implants) on either side. As opposed to partial dentures, which accomplish the same purpose but are different in design, bridges are permanently affixed inside the patient’s mouth. This allows the bridge wearer to not only enjoy whatever foods he/she would like, but also to easily care for the appliance by simply brushing and flossing as usual. While there’s no doubt that bridges provide many benefits to dental patients from in and around the Austin, Texas area, there are some drawbacks. What follows are some common dental bridge problems that wearers may experience on occasion.
Types of Dental Bridges
Generally speaking, there are five different types of dental bridges available to patients, including the following:
- Traditional dental bridge – As mentioned above, a typical traditional bridge consists of one or more artificial teeth set into a metal frame that attaches to adjoining natural teeth. But because support of a bridge puts additional strain and stress on those adjoining teeth (also called “abutment” teeth), it’s necessary to remove a portion of the enamel layer on those teeth and place a crown on each one. Once the enamel is removed, it doesn’t grow back, which means that those teeth will always require crowns.
- Maryland bridge – A Maryland bridge is also made from artificial teeth mounted onto a metal frame and supported by abutment teeth. The difference is that this appliance has “wings” on either end that are secured to the abutment teeth using a bonding material. That eliminates the need to crown the adjoining teeth, which also eliminates the need to remove enamel from those teeth.
- Cantilever bridge – This type of bridge is sometimes recommended for people who have only one adjoining tooth available to anchor the bridge. A cantilever bridge designed to replace a single tooth, for example, would consist of two artificial teeth with the abutment crown positioned next to the adjoining natural tooth and the replacement crown at the end of the appliance.
- Composite bridge – Just as the name implies, a composite bridge consists of composite resin material that is literally molded into the shape of a tooth and placed in the gap left behind by the missing tooth in the patient’s mouth. The composite tooth replacement is then held in place by a wire reinforcement. This type of bridge is usually considered to be a temporary solution.
- Implant-supported bridge – The appliance is exactly like a traditional bridge except that it is anchored on either end by dental implants. Although these bridges require more steps and involve multiple trips to the dentist over a several-month period, they are considered to be the most secure of all types of bridges and do not negatively impact adjoining teeth.
Common Dental Bridge Problems
The types of problems most commonly encountered by bridge wearers vary depending on the type of bridge they have. Generally, those difficulties are related to the following:
- Poor fit – If your bridge doesn’t fit correctly, you can experience a lot issues, such as irritated and/or infected gums, difficulty chewing food, and feeling uncomfortable with the device in your mouth. Here’s the good news: if you have your bridge created and fitted by an experienced, qualified dentist, chances are that your bridge will fit perfectly and feel quite comfortable for years to come. This is why it’s so important to rely on a dentist with years of experience in fitting patients with dental bridges.
- An old appliance – Although bridges are quite durable and typically last for many years, they do eventually need to be replaced. Depending on the type of bridge you have, most of these appliances last at least 10 or 15 years, and often longer than that. But if you’ve had your bridge for several years and begin to notice discomfort or feeling as though the device isn’t fitting properly, it’s probably time for a new bridge.
- Poor hygiene – Having one or more artificial teeth doesn’t mean that you can stop caring for them. And poor oral hygiene can cause a myriad of problems, whether you wear a bridge or not. You still need to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day, as well as visit your dentist at least twice a year for checkups and professional cleanings. Unlike other appliances that need to be removed and cleaned in a special way (like partial dentures, for example), dental bridges are easily cared for by simply following your normal oral hygiene routine every day.
With the many different types of bridges available to dental patients from in and around the Austin, Texas area, it’s always best to trust the judgment of your dentist when it comes to choosing which type is right for you. But whatever type you choose, remember that it’s extremely important to replace missing teeth in a timely manner. If you don’t – if you choose to simply live without one or more teeth for a period of time – it can throw your bite off, cause uneven wear on your other teeth, and even cause your remaining teeth to shift in place inside your mouth in an effort to fill in the gap left behind by the missing teeth. Fortunately, bridges are an excellent way to resolve the problem of missing teeth. And, assuming you allow only a qualified dentist to create and fit your bridge and that you practice good oral hygiene each day, your chances of experiencing any of these common dental bridge problems are quite low. For more information, contact your Austin, Texas dentist today and schedule an appointment.