A Guide to Dental Bridges

A Guide to Dental Bridges

A missing tooth is never a good thing. Most people lose their teeth due to medical conditions including poor dental care, while some just never see a tooth erupt for some reason.

But a missing tooth can be a problem for several reasons. Obviously, there can be self-esteem issues as your smile can have a gap. Otherwise, there are serious health issues with losing a tooth. A missing tooth is a gap where germs can go in, causing gum disease and other ailments. Your other healthy teeth may shift into the gap, causing a weakening of your tooth structure and affecting your bite.

For these reasons, those who have lost a tooth should look for replacement options as soon as possible. Dental bridges are a particularly cost-effective method to consider.

What is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a set of crowns which fill a gap with false teeth. Every bridge consists of at least three teeth. The teeth next to the gap are shaved down so that an artificial crown can be placed on the teeth as support. These supporting teeth are called abutment teeth. Then false tooth or teeth are placed in between the abutment teeth. The entire operation takes about one to two hours.

Other Options

Dental bridges are but one method to handle the gap created by a missing tooth. The other two options are dentures or an implant.

Dentures are removable teeth replacements, more suited for those with a weak jaw and who cannot afford a bridge. However, they can lead to infection and tooth decay if fitted improperly and must be regularly replaced so that they fit with your jaw.

Dental implants are a more permanent replacement compared to bridges or implants. Essentially, a dentist puts a titanium rod into the missing tooth’s gap, and your body will after some months create a tooth around the rod.  They do not require shaving the supporting teeth like bridges do and are more permanent.  

Cost Implications

Dental bridges and dental implants are not cheap, as both options can sometimes cost thousands of dollars per tooth. But there are different ways to understand their costs.

Dental bridges are cheaper up-front, especially if you have multiple teeth missing in a row. Note that each dental implant must be put in individually, while a dental bridge, like a real bridge can be placed in all at once.

However, a major problem with bridges is that they are not permanent, with some dentists recommending that they be replaced every ten years or so. Over time, the bridge can become loose or adjust your bite. This is especially the case if you do not take good care of your teeth.

Implants by contrast last permanently, and implants do not suffer from tooth decay (though they can be affected by gum decay caused by poor dental care.) As a result, they can be cheaper over the longer term. But depending on your financial situation, the cheaper up-front costs of a bridge may be better.

Which option is best for you largely depends on how much you can pay, how many teeth need to be replaced, and your oral health. Consult with your dental hygienist to determine how to take care of missing tooth gaps.