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A common treatment in restorative dentistry, dental bridges use artificial teeth to close gaps in your smile and improve your oral health and function. There are two main types of bridges: traditional and implant-supported. Both traditional and implant-supported bridges have several benefits and a few risks.

Dr. John F. Rink can explain the benefits and risks of dental bridges at our Charleston, SC, office. With a full understanding of your treatment options, you can choose the type of bridge that will work best for you.

Whether you opt for a traditional bridge or an implant-supported bridge, this solution can greatly enhance your appearance by replacing missing teeth as well as by preventing sagging of the soft tissues around the mouth.

The Difference Between Traditional and Implant-supported Bridges

Traditional and implant-supported bridges have some similarities and differences. A traditional dental bridge is a prosthesis comprised of an artificial tooth or teeth and secured by dental crowns on either side. It replaces just the visible part of missing teeth. An implant-supported bridge is anchored to dental implants, which fuse with the jaw bone. It replaces teeth entirely, from root to crown, and becomes an integral part of your body.

Tooth diagram


For the right candidates, both traditional and implant-supported bridges provide unique benefits. In general, patients who are missing one to three consecutive teeth may be candidates for either type of dental bridge. If you have periodontal disease, it should be treated before moving ahead with any restorative procedure. Because a traditional bridge is anchored to surrounding teeth, those teeth must be structurally sound in addition to being free from dental decay.

Only patients who are good candidates for dental implants can receive implant-supported dental bridges. The primary requirement for getting dental implants is having adequate bone density at the implant site. Dental implant candidates also need to be free from periodontal disease, have good oral and overall health, and not smoke. A patient without sufficient bone density may be a candidate for a bone graft or a sinus lift to build up the bone in the implant area.

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Benefits of Dental Bridges

Whether you opt for a traditional bridge or an implant-supported one, bridges can greatly enhance your appearance by replacing missing teeth as well as by preventing sagging of the soft tissues around the mouth. Bridges can improve your ability to eat, especially if several teeth were missing. Any speech issues due to missing teeth can also be corrected. Patients with implant-supported bridges gain additional benefits because dental implants actually prevent jawbone loss by simulating tooth roots. Without a natural root or implant in place, the jawbone starts to deteriorate over time, which can lead to multiple problems. Implant-supported bridges are the preferred restoration as they are more stable and secure than traditional bridges, but they do require an investment of time and money.

Risks of Dental Bridges

Bridges can be challenging to keep clean, since you need to clean under the bridge as well as between the teeth on either side. In addition, with traditional bridges, the natural surrounding teeth have to be reduced somewhat to prepare them for dental crowns, which can weaken them. There is also an increased risk for decay or damage to pulp and nerves in the crowned teeth. Traditional bridges eventually need to be repaired or replaced.

Implant-supported bridges require surgery for placement of the implants, and any surgery carries some risk. That said, problems with implants are rare when they are done properly. When issues do occur, they can usually be treated easily. 

John F. Rink DDS, AAACD

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A dental bridge can renew your smile. For more information regarding their benefits and risks, contact our office to make an appointment with Dr. Rink.

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