Hi, guys. Dr. Nate here, and let’s talk about dental bridges. Are they safe, how much do they cost, what is the process, etc. at our Thrive Dental office in Richardson, TX? Let’s jump right in.
So what is a dental bridge exactly?
A dental bridge is when you prepare two adjacent teeth that are just beside the space that has no tooth, and you prepare those teeth. You drill them down slightly and use those as abutments for the middle tooth.
You use those two adjacent teeth as anchors. This differs from a dental implant, where a dental implant, you put an implant in that edentulous area or that spot where there is no tooth, and then you put a crown on top of that.
What is the dental bridge made out of?
If the dental bridge is in the back, you can make it out of gold or some sort of a high noble material. The majority of dental bridges are made out of some type of porcelain or E-Max, or some sort of ceramic that looks extremely good.
The bridge looks as good or sometimes even better than your natural teeth.The reason that they can be better than your natural teeth is because these fake teeth, or this dental bridge, is made in a dental lab that most time will specialize in aesthetics, and they will make this dental bridge look absolutely amazing.
So what is the process for a dental bridge?
How are you going to get a dental bridge here at Thrive Dental? You’re going to come in, and if you have a tooth that is fractured or broken or has large decay, what the dentist do is they’ll take out that tooth, and they may put some bone graft in that area.
Either way, you’re going to have to let the extraction site heal for a few weeks to make sure that area, where that tooth was, can heal up nicely and adequately. If you did not have a tooth there, and it’s been out for a long time, what you’ll do is you’ll come in, and the dentist will prepare those two adjacent teeth.
They’re going to take away some tooth structure to make sure that you can have enough space for that dental bridge. We need to take away enough tooth structure so that when you put on the dental bridge, it fits nicely and well.
If you don’t remove enough tooth structure, the dental bridge material, the porcelain material, or the E-Max material will be too thin. If it’s too thin, then obviously, it’s going to be more likely for a fracture, and you do not want your dental bridge to fracture, because that is a pain.
Once the dentist is done preparing that tooth, the assistant and the dentist are going to take an impression of that area. At the end of that first visit, you’re going to leave with what we call a provisional or temporary bridge. It will look good, but it will not look as spectacular as your final dental bridge product that you’re going to get in a few weeks.
So at the end of that first day, your teeth will have been prepared, we’ve taken the impression, we’ve given you a provisional or temporary bridge, and then you’ll come back in a couple of weeks.
In a couple of weeks, we’re going to fit in that bridge, make sure it fits really good, make sure your occlusion, or your bite, is excellent, make sure aesthetically you like it, has to look as good or better than, the teeth it was replacing.
If you’re happy with the dental bridge, we’re going to cement it. We cement the bridge with permanent cement. This dental bridge will last you a long time if you take really good care of it, which we are going to talk about in a few minutes. The bridge can last you a decade or more potentially.
So, is a dental bridge safe?
The answer is yes, of course, it’s safe. We do these dental bridges pretty much every single day here at the Thrive offices. The reason we get this question is that people are trying to figure out precisely what is the process of a dental bridge and if they should get one vs a dental implant.
Like I mentioned before, we’re going to be preparing the two adjacent teeth. If those teeth are nice and healthy, you have to think that you are preparing those teeth. You’re taking away healthy tooth structure so that you can use those two adjacent teeth as an anchor for that tooth that is missing. That’s something you have to think about.
Instead, if those two adjacent teeth have big cavities or crowns that need replacing, then yeah, that’s no big deal to remove some tooth structure because they already need a crown or some version of a large restoration.
So you can prepare those teeth, and hey, that’s pretty much what you’re going to need to do anyway. But if the two adjacent teeth are beautiful, they’re pristine, have no cavities, and are healthy, then yes, you have to think about if that is a good option for you.
Either way, a dental bridge is safe, but you still have to weigh out your options and make sure you want a bridge versus an implant.
Who can get a dental bridge?
Not everybody can get a dental bridge! This is what we look for:
Number one: You have to look at the span of teeth that you’re going to cover. The larger the span of space you are trying to cover, the more stress you will place on the dental bridge. So just think of it, the longer the bridge is going to have to be, the more force is going to be placed on that bridge and the more tendency it has to fracture.
Number two: We’re also looking for the height that you have for that dental bridge. If the teeth above where the edentulous area is, has come down, and if you bite down on the side and you see that there’s not much space, there’s not much height for the dental bridge to go into, that is going to be a problem.
We’re looking at the length of the bridge and then also the height, to make sure there’s enough height so we can put an actual good dental bridge in your mouth.
Number three: The health of the adjacent teeth. If you have an edentulous area where there are no teeth, and you’re going to look at the two side teeth beside it, and we’re going to take a look, and we’re going to make sure that those teeth are healthy.
What if they have a lot of bone loss, or really big cavities, or previously had a root canal treatment or anything that’s going to make those teeth unstable? If that is the case, they may not be able to take the full force of a dental bridge, because you have to think that those two adjacent teeth are going to now take the force of that tooth that’s missing as well.
We want those two adjacent teeth to be extremely healthy. Remember the three things we’re looking for is the length of the bridge, the height that you have, and the health of those two adjacent teeth.
Why does a dental bridge fail?
Probably the number one reason is that the cavities have gone underneath the bridge on those two adjacent teeth. Taking care of a bridge is tough. It’s not just like taking care of normal teeth. You have to be better with your brushing and flossing.
What tends to happen is you get a dental bridge, and you do not take care of it as you should. Therefore cavities will seep underneath the bridge into the two adjacent teeth. If there’s recurrent decay, it’s going to get underneath that bridge, and then it’s going to fracture those teeth, and eventually, that bridge is going to break.
Another reason may be that you have excessive force on that bridge. If there’s too much force, the bridge is going to flex, and it’s going to hurt those two adjacent teeth. Maybe the bridge itself will break or fracture, or partially fracture, and that’s just because there’s too much force on those teeth.
If you have grinding or excessive biting down forces, you may think of getting a night guard for at least at night, to protect the bridge and your teeth.
How to keep your dental bridge as long as possible?
As I mentioned before, you want to keep the teeth and the bridge nice and clean. We always recommend getting an electric toothbrush. I think electric toothbrushes are so much better than manual toothbrushes. I don’t think I know a single dentist that has a manual toothbrush.
Therefore, number one, get an amazing electric toothbrush. Number two, you may want to invest in a Waterpik. A Waterpik is good to get into those hard-to-reach areas, and it can shoot those food particles out from underneath the bridge which is really important.
A Waterpik does not replace flossing, which is the third thing. Flossing is vital. If you have a bridge or even if you don’t have a bridge. Flossing can get all the plaque and tartar from in between the teeth, but you’re also going to need something called a floss threader, that can get underneath the bridge.
Remember, you’re going to floss on each side of the bridge, but you also need to floss underneath the bridge. A floss threader has this little thin point that can go underneath the bridge, and you can kind of floss and get all that gunk out from underneath the bridge. That’s going to give you the best chance to keep your bridge as long as possible.
And also, as mentioned before, you may want to get a night guard or something to help protect your teeth and protect the bridge in case you clench or grind at night.
Will the dental bridge look natural?
Yes, absolutely! Tons of people have dental bridges, and they look absolutely amazing. Our dental lab will do the best job possible in creating the smile that you’ve always wanted.
When you come for your final cementation we will ensure that your bridge looks absolutely amazing but here’s a word of advice. This dental bridge will not change colors. It is going to stay as white as you choose. What we typically say is, if you’re going to get a bridge, or crown, or veneers, you want to whiten your teeth at least a few weeks before we cement the final restoration.
We recommend when you come in, you get some whitening procedure like a Zoom whitening, which is in the office or you can use a take-home whitening solution. When you get your desired whiteness you let that fade for a few days, or maybe a week, so that you get the stable whiteness that you’re going to have of your teeth.
After a week or so is when we’re going to choose the final selection for color for your dental bridge. Keep in mind your bridge won’t discolor. So if you’re drinking lots of sodas, red wines, blueberries, all stuff that’s going to stain your teeth, it will stain your teeth, but it won’t stain the bridge. Therefore, periodically you’re going to need to whiten your teeth to make sure it matches that bridge as best as possible.
How much does a dental bridge cost?
In general, the more units you have, the more the cost will be. A longer span bridge will be more costly than a shorter bridge.
If you are in California and New York, it’s probably going to be more expensive than if you’re in the Midwest. But in general, it can be anywhere from 700 to $1,500 per tooth. So the more units (teeth) you have, the more expensive the dental bridge will be.
Keep in mind as well, that dental insurance comes into play with bridges because most of the time your insurance is going to cover at least a portion of it, depending on how good your insurance is. That’s why you should choose an office or provider that is in your network, or who can max out, or get all the dental benefits set from your insurance as possible, and that will make it so that your out-of-pocket is as least as possible.
Conclusion of a Dental Bridge
All right, there you go! That is everything you need to know about dental bridges. You know the safety of it, you know what it’s made out of, what we’re looking for, you know the cost, everything there is to do with dental bridges.
But maybe you’re trying to figure out if a dental bridge is better for you or an implant. Take a look at this next video, where I go into the details of what may be better for you, a dental bridge versus an implant.