Understanding Different Types of Dental Bridges - Smile Dental Center

dental bridge next to healthy teethDental bridges serve both functional and cosmetic purposes. By closing gaps in your mouth, they help improve bite strength, restore your smile – and the confidence that comes with it!

Compared to other restorative dental procedures, bridges involve securing a pontic (false tooth) between the existing teeth on both sides. This arrangement makes it easier to chew and talk, better distributes bite strength and prevents your teeth from moving around. Today, porcelain helps the bridge blend in with your existing teeth.

As not all patients have the same issues, dental bridges come in four versions: Traditional fixed, Maryland, implant-supported and composite. Once the best type is determined for you:

  • The abutment teeth will be prepared, often contoured slightly to remove a piece of the enamel. A crown is then placed on top.
  • Impressions of your teeth will be taken, which help create the pontic, crowns and bridge. In the meantime, patients will have a temporary bridge placed in their mouth.
  • At the next appointment, your dentist places the permanent bridge inside your mouth, making necessary adjustments for a close fit. It’s then cemented in place that day or at a following visit.

What’s the difference between these types of bridges and which might best suit your needs?

Traditional Fixed Bridges

Traditional fixed bridges are some of the most common. They feature two dental crowns cemented onto the abutment teeth to support the pontic in between. This arrangement is ideal if you have two secure natural teeth on both sides, although implants may also work.

As one advantage, traditional bridges feel relatively lightweight while redistributing your bite strength back over your missing teeth. However, enamel – which does not regenerate – will need to be removed and patients must continue to maintain their dental hygiene.

Maryland Bridges

Another option involving two abutment teeth, the Maryland bridge trades out crowns for metal and resin or porcelain bonding to hold the pontic in place.

Winged in appearance, Maryland bridges have a distinct advantage: It’s not always necessary to remove part of the enamel. Instead, metal attachments for the pontic are secured to the stable abutment teeth with resin and need only minor adjustments.

Compared to the other options, Maryland bridges are not ideal for individuals living with deep over, under or crossbites.

Implant-Supported Bridge

Growing in popularity, this option uses dental implants instead of crowns to keep the pontic secure. For this procedure, an implant is added for every missing tooth and together, they secure the complete bridge. However, if the jaw cannot support this, a pontic may be extended between two implant-supported crowns.

Patients should be aware that while this procedure doesn’t involve removing enamel, it generally takes longer to complete, as the implants need to be added and secure first.

At the same time, especially if an implant is added for each tooth, patients need to also understand:

  • They may experience implant failure or rejection.
  • Plaque that attaches to the implants can become embedded in the gums, going after the existing bone. As such, a regular dental hygiene routine is needed to clean an implant-supported bridge.

Composite Bridge

Considered a one-day bridge, composite options are ideal for those missing one or two teeth. Like Maryland bridges, a resin bond and metal wiring help secure the pontic.

The missing tooth or teeth are created with a composite before they’re placed into your mouth and bonded to the abutment teeth.
If you’re interested in restoring your smile, discuss restorative dental procedures with our team at Smile Dental Center. Contact us set up an appointment today!