Ganji Dental is a highly reputed and recognized dental care center serving patients in and around Hawthorne, CA. Our team of highly trained professionals provides a comprehensive array of cosmetic dentistry services with expertise in dental bridge procedures that meet and exceed all your dental needs. There are different dental bridges available, and our expert dentists can recommend an appropriate solution for your missing teeth, so you never feel conscious of showing your confident smile ever again.

What are Dental Bridges?

The wonders of modern cosmetic dentistry have expanded to more than just improving your smile. Apart from successful smile transformations, the advances in cosmetic dentistry procedures can determine the right treatment or combination of treatments for all kinds of dental problems without compromising on the aesthetics and functionality.

If you’re someone who lost a tooth due to an injury or other natural causes or facing the prospect of tooth extraction owing to a medical condition, you’re not the only one. According to a study by the American Dental Association, average adults in the age group from 20 to 64 years are reported to have three decayed or missing teeth. A missing tooth can create a gap and may lead to pain or discomfort when chewing, speaking, or even eating properly. Fortunately, today you have several dental solutions for replacing your missing teeth—a dental bridge is one of them.

This common dental cosmetic procedure is utilized in dentistry to replace missing teeth. Aptly named a 'dental bridge,' it bridges the empty space created by one or more missing teeth. A dental bridge is an artificial or false tooth, known as a pontic, which is supported by the abutment teeth on both sides of the missing teeth or gap. Abutment teeth are used to support a fixed or removable dental prosthesis or bridge. A successful dental bridge placement can provide an appealing cosmetic result that will restore the aesthetics and functionality of your mouth and smile.

How Can a Dental Bridge Help You?

In a nutshell, these are the key benefits of a dental bridge:

  • Restores your natural-looking smile and confidence
  • Restores your chewing function
  • Improves dental occlusion (bite)
  • Maintains the shape of your face
  • Prevents existing teeth from drifting out of position
  • Corrects and re-distribute the normal bite force, compromised by missing teeth
  • Closes the gaps between teeth

A dental bridge is also called fixed removable denture or fixed partial denture, cemented onto natural teeth or dental implants on either side of a missing tooth. A dental bridge involves no less than three crowns connected together to fill in the space of the missing tooth. The metal framework of the bridge stays behind the teeth, so you will never have to worry about your artificial tooth being noticed. It is important to note that people with poor oral hygiene habits may perhaps be not the best candidates for a dental bridge procedure as fitting a dental bridge requires the elimination of some tooth enamel. Some patients with already weak teeth can’t manage to lose that.

Types of Dental Bridges

There are four common types of dental bridges that your dentist may recommend to deal with your restoration depending on your specific dental condition. You and your dentist may discuss and decide which dental bridge will work for you best based on the condition, function, aesthetics, and cost of the replacement tooth.

Traditional Bridges

This is the most common and popular type of bridge and can last a long time if the patient maintains an optimum level of hygiene and care. Typically, traditional bridges are made of ceramic or porcelain fused to metal. These bridges involve two abutment teeth and one or more pontic teeth (false teeth) between them. In traditional dental bridges, the abutment teeth are the natural teeth that receive dental crowns to support the pontic in between.

Traditional fixed bridges may be a good option when your natural teeth or implants are on both sides of the gap left by a missing tooth. The healthy teeth on either side of the gap are re-shaped and fitted with dental crowns before placement of such bridges in order to ensure strong support to the bridge. Traditional bridges re-distribute your typical bite force neglected by gaps of your missing teeth, thus providing excellent chewing comfort. Traditional dental bridges are strong enough to replace molars.

This type of bridge is preferred by dentists in most situations as it offers excellent strength and support for the bridge; however, it has a downside to it. Dentists will need to remove enough enamel from your abutment teeth to prepare them for the crowns. Since enamel doesn’t regenerate on its own, the abutment teeth will always need to be protected by well-fitted dental crowns to ensure the longevity of your bridge.

Cantilever Bridges

Replacement of missing or lost teeth can also be done using cantilever bridges. These bridges are very similar to traditional dental bridges but can be utilized by dentists when there is only one adjacent natural tooth available to support your missing tooth. So, if your natural tooth is supported by an abutment only on one side, and not on both sides, a bridge can still be secured. Cantilever bridges are generally utilized to replace only one missing tooth. However, this is not a very common—or the best—method of 'bridging' the gaps between teeth. Dentists do not recommend this kind of bridge on back teeth of the mouth where it can put excessive pressure on the supporting abutment teeth and therefore would be subject to damage and even collapse. The bridge placement needs to be carefully planned out by the dentist to reduce any possible risk of destabilizing the abutment teeth.

In cantilever bridges, the dentist will crown only one adjacent tooth, and the same crown will support the entire restoration, which typically consists of two pontics. The good thing about cantilever bridges is that only a single, healthy tooth is required for drilling into an abutment. Generally, such types of bridges are not as strong as traditional dental bridges with two supporting crowns.

Maryland Bonded Bridges

Also commonly known as a resin-bonded bridge, Maryland bridges offer a more conservative alternative to bridging the space between your missing or lost tooth. It does not require reshaping (just minimal adjustment) and use of crown on the abutment teeth, rather this type of bridge uses a porcelain or metal framework, called wings, on each side, to hold the fake tooth (pontic) in place with resin cement. The two small metal wings are bonded to the inner edge of the adjacent teeth. For placement of a resin-bonded bridge, the dentist only needs to micro-etch your two supporting natural teeth in order to create a stronger bond for restoration.

A Maryland bonded dental bridge typically uses a porcelain or metal framework to hold the fake tooth (pontic) in place. This framework is attached to the back of the two teeth adjacent to the missing tooth. In addition to preserving the healthy adjacent teeth, a bonded bridge is also a cost-effective and relatively efficient procedure when evaluated against a traditional fixed bridge.

Maryland bridge procedures are mainly recommended for front teeth where the adjacent teeth are stable. It is critical to have a good judgment of your bite to determine the viability of this option as this bridge is only as strong as the porcelain-metal framework that holds and supports it in place. Since these kinds of bridges are not as strong as those of traditional fixed bridges, it gets difficult to stay in place where the teeth are subject to high biting force.

The name 'Maryland' comes from the fact that these bonded bridges were developed by a team of researchers at the University of Maryland.

Implant-Supported Bridges

In the last 20 years or so, implant-supported bridges for replacing missing teeth have gained much popularity. The reason is that in this type of restoration, there is almost no damage to the adjacent natural teeth and dentists can preserve more of a patient’s natural tooth structure.

Instead of crowns or frameworks, this type of dental bridge is supported exclusively by implants and is often used when you have more than one tooth missing. The dental implants are secured to your jawbone to ensure maximum stability. Usually, dentists will place one implant for each missing tooth. However, in some cases where placing one implant for each tooth lost does not seem possible, the bridge is made with a pontic suspended in between the two implant-supported crowns.

Just like your natural teeth, an implant-supported bridge restoration can provide comfort and a secure feel. If other oral dynamics and your bone quality allow for an implant-supported bridge, you can even replace your entire lower or upper arch.

The only downside to implant-supported bridges is that the whole implant procedure completes with two surgeries—the first surgery is for placing the implants and the second is to place the bridge.

The Dental Bridge Procedure: How Does It Work?

The dental bridge procedure starts with the assessment of possible restorative dental treatments and figuring out whether a dental bridge is the best option for you. After properly investigating the treatment area and examining through X-rays, the dentist may discuss the best possible options, including the design and type of bridge while answering the patient’s queries. Once you and your dentist mutually decide to go for a bridge procedure considering it as the best replacement for your missing teeth, your dentist will talk and advise you about the different bridge materials that will be most suitable for you and your mouth. Materials that are generally used for replacement teeth are metal alloys, gold, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Sometimes the replacement teeth can be fabricated exclusively with high-strength, metal-free materials such as alumina or zirconia-based on individual requirements. This is why some dental bridges cost more than others. Generally, your dentist will recommend material for your dental bridge or crown for a more natural look.

Based on the number of teeth missing or the width of the gap, the dental bridge needed by you could be three or more units. A typical bridge will have two crowns cemented or “fixed” to the teeth on both sides of the space and one or more false or anchor teeth to fill the space. A dental bridge can be supported by natural teeth or implants.

Getting a bridge usually takes a minimum of two visits depending on your dentist’s treatment plan. During the first visit, your dentist will prepare the abutment or anchor teeth for the placement of a dental bridge. The dentist will re-contour the abutment teeth by removing a portion of the enamel so that the crowns can properly fit over them. A local anesthetic may be used if you feel anxious or uncomfortable during the procedure. If the support teeth are compromised, the dentist will have to build them again before moving on to subsequent steps in the procedure.

In the next step, impressions of the shaped teeth are taken on a putty-like material. The impressions are used as an exact model to fabricate your bridge. A team of skilled lab technicians in a dental laboratory creates the bridge following the dentist's instructions to ensure a precise fit. The perfect fitment of the replacement tooth is important to avoid additional oral health problems, like tooth decay.

You may be fitted with a temporary bridge that will protect the uncovered teeth and gums, while the permanent version of your bridge is getting ready in the dental laboratory. Typically, a temporary restoration bridge is made out of filling material and functions by protecting the re-shaped abutment teeth from any damage. Once the new permanent dental bridge is ready, the fitted temporary bridge is removed.

In cases where the teeth on the sides of the gap are not capable of supporting the bridge on their own, a dental implant may be needed to fix the bridge. Since the placement of a dental bridge is not performed surgically, so your dentist will only numb the treatment area by injecting a local anesthetic directly into your gums during the procedure.

The new permanent bridge is installed at the second appointment, once checked for a proper fit. The second visit may have a gap of approximately ten days after the first. During this visit, your temporary bridge will be removed revealing the abutment teeth and then the underlying teeth are cleaned of temporary cement. If needed, a few final adjustments can be made to get the fit just right.

You may be asked by your dentist to visit again in order to check if the permanent bridge in the mouth is fitted properly. This may vary in each individual’s case. After a few weeks, the bridge is permanently fixed or cemented into place. The use of a local anesthetic is discretionary. It should be expected that the placement of a bridge would feel a little unfamiliar in the first few days or weeks. This type of bridge is called 'permanent’ for the reason that once cemented it cannot be taken out of the mouth without assistance from a dentist.

When Is Dental Bridge a Better Prospect for You Than a Dental Implant?

You must know and understand when a tooth bridge is a better option for you over a dental implant. While most experts rate dental implants as the best method of replacing a missing tooth, there are certain circumstances when a bridge procedure seems to be the better choice.

In cases where the adjacent teeth have large fillings and most likely will need caps or crowns in the future, a dental bridge may be a better option. Also, if the teeth-tooth is missing for a long time, it may cause the gum and bone to recede. In such cases, you need to consider dental procedures beyond the dental implant.

Another instance where dental bridges could prove to be a better option is when the patient has a focus on aesthetics. Since a bridge allows you to control the color and shape of at least three teeth, some restoration decisions are driven by aesthetics.

If you have had a failed implant, you must share this with your dentist. Sometimes changing plans can work better for you because there is a good chance that the implant site is compromised.

Whether to go for a dental bridge or an implant, this decision should always be made after consulting and carefully considering every aspect of your case with a qualified dentist.

How Long Does a Dental Bridge Last?

One of the significant threats to your dental bridges is tooth decay as food can be stuck under the false tooth or in the space between the teeth. In case there is decay or gum disease, the supporting natural teeth on the sides of the false tooth are deteriorated, which can adversely affect the length of time your dental bridge will last.

The longevity of your dental bridge depends largely on your oral hygiene habits. Some experts say that bridges can last for ten years or even longer if properly maintained. Just like your natural teeth, the bridge and the supporting teeth require good oral hygiene. You should clean the bridge properly and visit your dentist regularly for dental cleanings to maintain the good health of your teeth and extend the longevity of your bridge. Other simple things you can do to prolong the life of your dental bridge is brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing under the false tooth as well as between the supporting teeth at least once every day.

Even your diet plays a vital role in this regard. If you consume healthy foods and avoid foods that contribute to the decay of your dental bridge and supporting teeth, you can easily extend the expected lifespan of your dental bridges. Ideally, you should avoid sugar and starch-based foods that are typically the leading cause of dental decay. Foods like nuts, popcorn, and caramel are hard to chew and can increase the pressure on dental bridges, thus contributing to the possibility of early failure of the dental bridges.

While there is no concrete answer as to how effective dental bridges are or how long they can last, with good oral hygiene, regular check-ups and home care, it is not uncommon for dental bridges to last more than ten years. Your dentist may also advise you about how to care for your dental bridge if there are any special instructions specific to your case.

The average cost of a dental bridge can depend on various factors. The cost of dental bridges depends on the number of units, the need for additional procedures in the adjoining teeth, the type of bridge selected, the type of material used for the bridge, and the location where this dental restoration procedure is carried out. Usually, the dental insurance coverage will pay a part of the fee depending on your dental plan.

You may also want to consider a dental implant as a long-term solution to tooth replacement. Although dental implants have higher upfront costs and longer recovery time, most experts believe they can last a lifetime.

Find a Dental Care Center that Specializes in Dental Bridge Procedure near Me

If you or a loved one is looking to fill those unsightly gaps from missing teeth and regain the confidence to flash that beautiful smile once again, don’t wait to seek cosmetic dental services from a reputed dental and oral healthcare center like Ganji Dental. Our team of recognized dentists is dedicated to providing the highest quality, comprehensive dental care for our patients in a compassionate and professional manner. Using state-of-the-art technology and years of experience, we commit ourselves to your satisfaction and comfort. Call our Hawthorne dentist at 310-643-8045 to speak to one of our highly qualified dental experts regarding your cosmetic dental procedure. We look forward to helping you replace missing teeth and restore your beautiful smile!