You may be familiar with a traditional cantilever bridge. Without one, we'd all be stuck at certain river crossings with nowhere to go. But a cantilever bridge is also used in dental care! And since most of us aren't long-distance swimmers, dental bridges are needed for us to get around. A missing tooth can create a sink-or-swim situation, and a dental bridge is just the answer to help you stay afloat!
When a tooth is missing, it creates more than just an aesthetic problem. Missing teeth put pressure on the remaining teeth to work harder, which can increase the possibility of tooth decay, gum disease and crooked teeth. The part of the jaw where the tooth is missing may recede, resulting in further tooth loss and premature aging. Dentists highly recommend replacing a missing tooth to avoid the dental problems caused by tooth loss.
A dental bridge is an excellent solution for one or more missing teeth. Consisting of a series of dental crowns fused together, the dental bridge uses a false tooth, or pontic, to replace the missing tooth. As each dental crown is cemented to the adjacent teeth, the pontic rests comfortably in the space where the missing tooth used to be. Stable and permanent, dental bridges literally "bridge the gap" and look just like your real teeth!
A traditional bridge, which is the most common of the dental bridges, has the pontic in the center of the bridge with a crown on either side. It's designed to fit over the two adjacent teeth, which are called abutment teeth. But in some cases, abutment teeth aren't available on both sides of the gap, which means there isn't enough support for the bridge. In this situation, the dentist may opt to use what's known as a cantilever bridge.
Unlike a traditional bridge, a cantilever bridge supports the fake tooth from one end. Cantilever bridges are most often used when abutment teeth are located on only one side of the missing tooth or in areas of mouth that are under less stress. A cantilever dental bridge often uses the same number of dental crowns, but the layout is different. The abutment crowns are placed next to each other, with the pontic placed on the end. In some cases only one dental crown is used, depending on how much support the cantilever bridge needs.
There are several reasons to choose a cantilever bridge. Not only are they ideal for situations where a traditional dental bridge or dental implants aren't available, but cantilever bridges work for front teeth as well. Unlike resin bonded bridges, no metal clasps are used to secure the bridge to teeth, resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.
And although it may seem like you're walking the plank rather than crossing the bridge, cantilever bridges are no less stable than traditional bridges. Like other bridges, the cantilever dental bridge can last up to 10 years with proper dental care. This, of course, includes the same oral hygiene rules you follow on a regular basis for your natural teeth.
If you have a missing tooth, talk to your dentist about your replacement options. And the sooner you see a dentist, the better! Even just one missing tooth can cause extreme damage to the rest of your mouth, resulting in the need for a tooth filling, gum disease treament or dental braces.