A dental bridge is a treatment used to replace a missing tooth. When your missing tooth is between two teeth, the dental bridge connects the adjacent teeth to a false tooth that fills the space of your missing tooth.
Alternative treatments to bridges are available, with the most common alternative treatment being a dental implant. A dental implant replaces the root and the crown of the tooth you’re missing. If you have been told that you need a bridge, here are some things you should consider:
- Teeth health: Are there teeth on either side of the missing tooth healthy? If so, you might want to consider alternative treatments for a bridge like dental implants. Otherwise, in order to prepare your adjacent teeth for a bridge, your dentist must grind those teeth down significantly in order to place the supporting restorations on those teeth to securely hold the bridge in place. This minimally-invasive approach suggests you don’t allow the healthy teeth to be impacted.
- The amount of time the tooth has been missing: If your tooth has been missing for several years, the bone where the tooth root used to be might be missing. The bone supports the tooth, but the tooth also supports the bone. If your tooth is missing or pulled, the bone will resorb (dissolve) away, causing a defect in the bone in that area. This defect can cause future health problems, as well as aesthetic problems after you have your bridge delivered. The bony defect can also cause problems with alternative treatments. If your X-rays show a visible bone loss from a missing tooth, you should consider a bone graft before proceeding with a bridge or alternative treatments.
- Cost: When considering the cost of a bridge versus alternative treatment like a dental implant, the cost is one of the most obvious things to consider. Bridges and dental implants require significant investments to restore/replace a missing tooth. In some cases, a dental implant (from start to finish) may cost more than a dental bridge, and dental implant treatment may take more visits and a longer time to complete. However, a successful dental implant may last you a lifetime, while bridges may fail and require you to pay for another bridge in the future. The restoration longevity should be a strong consideration when considering the overall cost of replacing a missing tooth.
- Aesthetics: Will the bridge (or bridge alternative) be visible in your smile? If so, you might want to consider getting opinions from dentists who are experienced in cosmetic procedures, as these dentists may have additional training, knowledge and experience to improve your smile’s appearance with this treatment.
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