When it comes to replacing lost teeth, our Kansas City dental office provides multiple restorative options. From dental implants to dentures, we offer a multitude of ways to give you a full, healthy smile that will last. Dental bridges are one treatment method in particular that can solve many types of tooth loss. A dental bridge, also called a fixed partial denture, can offer an effective replacement for teeth while avoiding some of the drawbacks of implants and dentures. To learn more about dental bridges and whether you may benefit from them, refer to the information provided below.
Dental Bridges vs. Alternative Options
Before pursuing any method of tooth replacement, it is helpful to understand the key differences between each of the three traditional treatment options:
- Dental implants are installed in place of each missing tooth. Each implant serves as a replacement for the tooth’s roots, and is installed directly into the gum and jawbone. Because of this, implants require healthy gums and sufficient jaw structure. Once healed, implants are used to support a dental crown, or they may support larger restorations for multiple teeth.
- Dentures are simply replacement teeth that are crafted to fit your mouth - either within remaining teeth or as the whole row of teeth. Partial dentures attach to adjacent teeth, whereas full dentures adhere to the gums by themselves.
- Dental bridges contain replacement teeth that are held in place on either side by dental crowns, which are placed over neighboring teeth, or with dental implants. By fastening to these supports, the bridge fills the gap between them to restore a full smile.
While each method is effective in its own right, some patients are better suited for one over another. The type of tooth loss, a patient’s dental health, and a patient’s personal preferences must all be taken into consideration to determine the right treatment.
Candidates for Dental Bridges
In order to be a candidate for a dental bridge, a patient must be suffering from some degree of tooth loss and have the means to support a bridge. In other words, there must be healthy teeth or implants on both sides of the gap. If teeth are present, they must be strong enough to support the bridge and healthy enough to have some enamel removed without complication. This allows them to be crowned by the bridge and, consequently, support its weight.
Usually, the best candidates for dental bridges are those who are missing one or more teeth, but still have enough healthy teeth that full dentures are not yet necessary. In many cases, these patients are also unable or unwilling to undergo the surgery necessary for dental implants. Because a bridge is not installed into the gum or bone, most patients can easily undergo the procedure with little risk or contraindication. And as long as patients take good care of their teeth and gums afterward, a bridge should be able to last many years.
When Are Dental Bridges Not a Good Option?
Although most candidates for bridges could likely benefit from them and achieve a long-lasting, satisfying smile, there are some circumstances in which a bridge is not the best method of treatment. Keep the following points in mind while weighing your options for tooth replacement:
- Bridges do not retain bone tissue: Because dental implants are secured into the bone, they help retain bone tissue just as a normal tooth would. Patients with bridges will continue to experience gradual bone loss in the jaw due to missing roots. If you hope to have implants installed in the future, it is better to simply have them installed in place of a bridge while you can still support them.
- Bridges are not optimal for near-total tooth loss: If you only have a few remaining teeth, it may be better to get dentures than to sacrifice your last teeth to support bridges. This is particularly true if you have any reason to believe those teeth will also be lost at some point.
- Bridges require diligent hygiene: All restorations require basic hygiene, but bridges can be more difficult to maintain due to the spaces between replacement teeth and gums. Patients must remember to be diligent and meticulous in their hygiene habits.
Learn More about Dental Bridges
For the right candidate, a dental bridge can provide a healthy and natural looking smile. Contact us to learn more about this restorative technique and gain personal insight as to whether it is truly right for you.