Dental Bridge

What is a dental bridge?

it is a prosthesis designed to replace missing tooth or teeth. Dental bridge consists of crowns that are attached to each other. Each crown in a bridge is referred to as a unit. If we wanted to replace one missing tooth, a three-unit bridge would be required. One of the units would replace the missing tooth and the adjacent crowns or units act as support. The crown that replaces the missing tooth is referred to as a pontic. Any unit of a bridge that is not cemented onto a natural tooth is a pontic. The supporting units of a dental bridge are referred to as abutments.

Cost Of Dental Bridge

The cost of a dental bridge is determined by adding up the number of abutments and pontics and multiplying it by the cost of an individual crown. The cost will vary upon the materials used to fabricate the bridge. All porcelain, very esthetic dental bridge is usually more expensive.

Dental Bridge Variation

In certain situations a two-unit bridge is placed to replace a missing tooth. This type of a bridge is called a cantilever. A cantilever bridge consists of at least one abutment and one pontic, although it can contain more. The benefit of a cantilever bridge is that potentially only one tooth is prepared for a crown. It is rarely used because of potential issues, which can result. Since the cantilever bridge is only supported from one side there is potential for overstressing the supporting tooth. This could loosen up the tooth and cause local chronic inflammation and pain. Think about a real estate sign hanging from a pole. If you hang a heavy for sale sign, the pole can come loose over time. The same thing can happen with a natural tooth.

Maryland Bridge

A Maryland bridge is usually a three-unit bridge designed to replace a missing tooth in younger individuals. One of the main advantages of this type of bridge is that only a small portion of the natural tooth is shaved down. This helps preserve the health of the pulp tissue (nerve of the tooth). This is crucial in younger individuals because the pulp chamber is large and the pulp tissue of the tooth is more prone to injury. If a conventional bridge was completed the prepared teeth might require root canal treatment. One of the disadvantages of a Maryland bridge is that it is only partially cemented in place making it less resistant to occlusal (biting) forces as well as lateral forces exerted during chewing or grinding of teeth.

Purpose Of A Dental Bridge

  • Replacing missing teeth with a fix prosthesis (not removable)
  • Provide a pleasing esthetic appearance
  • Improve the integrity of the dental arch (this will allow for improved chewing abilities)
  • Avoid that sunken cheek appearance caused by missing teeth usually present in the older population
  • Stabilizes that area of the dental arch to give you a more youthful appearance
  • A bridge is permanently cemented on to provide ideal esthetics and function

Types of Dental Bridges ( Fixed Partial Dentures):

All metal bridge

  • can either be yellow gold or base metal
  • rarely done today, great fit, unaesthetic, strong and durable
  • bridge made up of yellow gold will be more expensive and is dependent on gold prices
  • cost of a base metal bridge is much less than the gold
  • gold is a soft, inert metal. Gold allergies are very rare. Gingiva or the gum tissue around the tooth stays healthy because of the great fit obtained with a gold restoration and the non-reactive nature of gold.

Porcelain Fused To Metal

  • commonly fabricated
  • provides an excellent fit like a metal crown with porcelain layer to provide with esthetic result
  • porcelain can fracture under certain conditions (usually insufficient thickness or excessive thickness)
  • the prosthesis can black out a discolored teeth with the metal portion while still providing an esthetic appearance
  • when the gum tissue recedes, a dark shadow can become apparent around the gum line this usually leads to replacement because of compromised esthetics

All Porcelain Bridge

  • all porcelain dental bridge can be fabricated thanks to improved techniques and materials
  • made from very strong type of porcelain that can withstand the stress of chewing forces
  • masking discolored teeth is easier today with latest technique in an all porcelain prosthesis
  • very esthetic result
  • In severe cases of excessive biting pressure porcelain can fracture. Some of the more common reasons for fracture include:
  • grinding of teeth
  • chewing on things (pencil, pipe, ice)
  • microscopic defects in the structure of porcelain
  • incorrect thickness of porcelain during fabrication
  • interference during jaw movement

Maintaining good oral health:

How to keep the bridgework clean?
Obtaining a restoration such as a crown or a bridge means maintaining excellent home care. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once. Plaque and bacteria are more prone to collecting on a tooth that has a crown or a bridge then natural teeth. It is very important to floss under the pontic or false tooth.

Floss Threader and Superfloss:

Several floss aids are used for areas that cannot be reached with regular floss. These aids allow for thorough maintenance of a dental bridge in order to increase its functional life.

Cost Of A Dental Bridge

Just like the cost of a dental crown vary greatly across the country, the same is true for a dental bridge as well. The number of units that the prosthesis is made out of determines the cost of a dental bridge. Each unit represents one crown. It could be a true crown that is cemented to a tooth or a false crown that sits on the tissue. For example, if there is one tooth missing a three-unit bridge is necessary to provide good support to the false tooth. Two crowns cemented to healthy teeth on either side and a false tooth in the middle. In this case the cost would be whatever the cost of a crown is times three. To see the price ranges of a crown please see cost of a dental crown.

Dental Insurance Coverage

Dental insurance coverage of a dental bridge is similar to a dental crown. Each bridge unit will count as a single crown. With most dental insurance plans, dental crowns are covered at 50 percent, although the coverage can range from 50 to 100 percent. This includes any pontics, or false teeth, that the bridge might have. Therefore a three-unit bridge will be charged out as three separate crowns. If you are considering a dental bridge, the limiting factor to how much the dental insurance company might cover would be your yearly dollar maximum. Ask the dental office representative to provide you with an estimate so that there are no surprises. If you would like to be absolutely sure that the insurance will cover the cost of the bridge you can request that your dental office sends a pre-estimate to the insurance company. In a response letter the insurance company will estimate total coverage for the bridge and your financial responsibility if you decide to get the work completed.