Dental bridges are one of the options for replacing missing teeth, and filling gaps between teeth. They consist of prosthetics in the form of a false tooth or teeth, called pontics, which are shaped and colored to look like the missing teeth they replace. These dental prosthetic devices are offered by dentists as part of their restorative dentistry services, and provide one of the best solutions for dealing with the problem of gapped or missing teeth. They come in three different types – cantilever, Maryland and traditional.
10 Things You Should Know About Cantilever Dental Bridge
- A cantilever dental bridge is used when the abutment tooth (the tooth that supports the bridge) is present on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth
A cantilever bridge is basically a fixed bridge that is permanently attached to only one tooth. In a conventional bridge, the pontic (artificial false tooth) is placed in the center of the dental bridge with a crown on either side. It is designed to fit over the two abutment teeth (adjacent teeth supporting the bridge at the center). However, in some cases, the abutment teeth required to support the false tooth/teeth via crowns are not available on both sides of the gap. In this situation, the false tooth is affixed over the tooth on the only available side. So, the dentist will only crown the one abutment tooth available. This single crown will provide the support needed for the entire restoration.
- A cantilever bridge is not recommended for restoring the back teeth
Because a cantilever dental bridge holds the false tooth only from one end, it may not provide enough support for the large grinding teeth in the back. The back teeth (molars) bear most of the force of a person’s bite and a cantilever dental bridge placed at the back would be put under too much pressure by the forces in chewing, which could see it become damaged or collapse. It is typically recommended for replacing a missing tooth in the front or middle of the mouth (when the missing tooth is either a lateral incisor or a premolar.
- A cantilever dental bridge is typically indicated in situations where only one tooth is missing
Though dental bridges are often indicated for patients with 2-3 missing teeth, a cantilever bridge is advisable only when one tooth is missing. If two or more teeth are missing, a longer cantilever bridge will likely collapse. But this doesn’t mean that this type of dental bridge cannot be used to treat patients who have two teeth missing. Some dentists actually use it to restore two missing teeth. It all depends on the individual case and the material to be used in the bridge.
Partial dentures are usually recommended if a patient does have three or more teeth missing, while complete dentures are the most preferred option in cases where all of a patient’s teeth are missing.
- Virtually anyone who has one tooth missing is a candidate for a cantilever dental bridge
Anyone with one tooth missing can use this type of dental bridge to restore their teeth. The most important thing here is to have a healthy tooth on one side of the gap to support the crown and the false teeth. If the abutment tooth has a crack, chip or other minor imperfection, it can still be prepared to support the bridge. As long as the tooth next to the gap is structurally sound, it can serve as the foundation for a cantilever bridge. However, if a patient has a serious condition such as gum disease, then the dentist must first address the problem before placing this type of bridge or any other dental appliance, for that matter.
- A cantilever bridge is aesthetically pleasing and a great way to restore smile
Unlike bonded bridges, which utilize metal clasps to fuse to healthy teeth via a type of resin, this type of bridge doesn’t have metal bands and this gives it a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. It is crafted to look, feel, and function like a natural tooth and it can even be used to cover irregularities in a patient’s smile.
- A cantilever bridge comes in various types of dental alloys
Like other types of bridges, a cantilever bridge can be constructed using any one of a number of different types of dental alloys – precious, semi-precious or non-precious. The bridge can be all-metal or porcelain-fused-to-metal. That means patients have a choice when it comes to installation, and one can choose a bridge that fits their preferences, budget, and dental plan.
- A cantilever bridge is a cheaper option for replacing a missing tooth
Though a dental implant offers a more effective way to replace missing tooth, not everyone can afford the high cost associated with this procedure. A cantilever dental bridge is much cheaper than having an implant placed, and is particularly ideal for situations where a dental implant cannot be used such as situations where there’s bone loss or damage.
- A cantilever dental bridge can range in cost from $700 to $1,300 per artificial tooth
Though most cantilever bridges have only one artificial tooth and a crown permanently attached to the abutment tooth, some dentist may use this type of bridge to replace two missing teeth. A cantilever bridge with two pontics will obviously cost more than a bridge with only one pontic. Nonetheless, the cost of a cantilever dental bridge will depend on several factors including: the material used, fabrication process, complexity of the treatment, geographic location, the specific dentist, and any additional treatments required.
- A cantilever dental bridge can last up to 10 years, and sometimes longer, with good oral hygiene
Typically, cantilever dental bridges, like other bridges, last about 5 – 7 years. The average life expectancy depends on the type of material used to make the bridge. Certain types can last even over a decade, with the potential to last a lifetime.
- It is important to maintain good oral hygiene after having a cantilever dental bridge installed
Sugary and sticky foods can get stuck under the cantilever bridge pontic, which replaces the missing tooth, causing the gums and teeth to become affected by plaque, oral infections and/or other dental problems. Regular blushing and flossing prevents the buildup of food, plaque, bacteria and the problems these can cause. Professional dental cleanings (at least twice a year) are also necessary.
As well as maintaining proper dental care, eating tooth friendly foods and avoiding those hard food items that put stress on the bridge will help prolong its lifespan. This type of dental bridge is worth the time and expense involved in having it placed, just as long as the patient looks after it. With proper care, one can restore and enjoy a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime.