Missing one or several teeth may prove disastrous and can seriously affect your appearance and the functionality of your smile or bite.
Missing teeth can cause other related health issues, such as teeth shifting, speech impediments, temporomandibular joint disorder (shortened as TMJ), malocclusion and an increased risk to develop periodontal disease or tooth decay.
Thankfully, with the advent of modern dental bridges, having a wonderful, white sparkling smile is not reserved only for the celebrities, as it once was. Dental health technology has evolved tremendously and now every patient can have a professional bridge installed, allowing them to regain their confidence and flash a fabulous glowing grin for any photo opportunity.
What is a Dental Bridge?
Essentially, bridges are small, partial dentures (or prosthetics) that are used to replace one or more missing teeth. There are several types available and their use depends on the location of the missing teeth, the mouth anatomy and other factors, determined by your dentist.
They are made up of two or more crowns (depending on the number of missing teeth) that cover the teeth on both sides of the gap. They are known as anchor or abutment teeth, and the false teeth, named pontics, lie between them. The pontics (the false teeth) can be made of porcelain, metal alloys, gold or a combination of these different materials.
When it comes to the structural support for the false teeth, there are two options, depending on the mouth anatomy: natural teeth (if they are healthy) or dental implants.
When done properly they have profound effects on the appearance of the patient and help restore the smile, restore the ability to speak and chew properly, prevent the shifting of the teeth and will maintain the normal shape of the face.
The Dental Bridge Procedure – How Are They Installed?
When getting a bridge installed, there are several steps to know about. Firstly, your dentist will prepare the abutment teeth, using specialized tools to taper and remove a layer of enamel, which will allow room for the new denture.
During the next step, the dentist will make impressions of your healthy teeth as models for the new false teeth. This step ensures that your bite will be ideal and natural, effectively the same as when you had your normal teeth. The bridge, pontics and crowns are all made based on the model taken during this step.
During the third step, your dentist will install a temporary bridge that will act as protection for your gums until the permanent bridge is completed. When preparing a bridge for multiple teeth, the existing teeth must be tapered simultaneously to be able to fit the new denture.
The tapered teeth must match perfectly with the new prosthetic teeth, ensuring an ideal, sealed seat for the bridge. When a perfect alignment is not possible, an attachment that can be cemented first must be used.
The other abutment tooth is then inserted, with the arm of the pontic tooth slipping into an opening in the cement. This procedure allows longer spans with little added effort.
Different Types of Dental Bridges
They come in a variety of shapes and can be made using various materials. They are always custom made, accordingly to the specific needs of every patient, but there are three major types available:
They consist of a crown built on either side of a missing tooth and includes a pontic to fill the gap. They can be installed on a tapered tooth or on a metal implant. Being the most popular among bridges, they are made of simple materials, such as porcelain, other ceramics or metal.
Maryland Bonded Bridges
Also known as resin-bonded bridges, these dentures are made of plastics or porcelain fused to metal and are installed on a complex metal or porcelain framework. They consist of porcelain or metal wings that are attached on each side of the bridge.
When there is only a healthy tooth near a gap, a cantilevered bridge may be required. Although these bridges are uncommon, they are effective for certain patients that have multiple gaps. Cantilevered bridges are made of porcelain, metal alloys and sit on a metal framework.
How Much Does a Dental Bridge Cost?
Generally, bridges are considered some of the most affordable ways to replace missing teeth. The cost of a dental bridge from a professional dentist can vary vastly, depending on the patient’s medical situation. Also, the prices can go up, depending on the technology and materials used.
In the United Kingdom, patients have two ways to get one made, and the prices vary accordingly:
For patients who rely on the NHS dental plan, the standard fee is £269.30 and it covers the full treatment: x-rays, scale, polish, fillings, extractions, crowns, dentures and bridges.
Bridges can also be made and installed at private dental clinics. At these clinics, each service is paid separately: medical assessments cost £30 to £50, x-rays can go from £9 (standard) to £30 (panoramic/panoral) and extractions cost £50 (per tooth).
Resin-bonded bridges have a price of £400 to £500, porcelain bonded or precious alloy bridges go for £370 to £430 and a temporary bridge may cost £50. Gold crowns go for £370 to £430, while zirconium crowns have a price of £525. Also, the professional assessment of shade and color by a technician costs £50.
A well-crafted bridge can bring back a wonderful smile, help you regain confidence and have a safe and comfortable bite, that will allow you to eat your favourite meal.
Whatever your age, having a great, sparkling white smile is essential in today’s world, and a bridge is often an ideal choice. They are easy to install and are available in numerous materials, thus catering for any need.
What’s more, a well-maintained bridge can last for more than 20 years with little to no side effects. Coupled with their relatively low price and versatility, bridges are the best ways to get that celebrity smile that everyone wants.