What’s a dental bridge? It’s a single unit that replaces one or more missing teeth by attaching a prosthetic to teeth adjacent to the missing tooth (or teeth). Pretty simple right? You’re missing a tooth, so you put in a bridge. End of story. Right…..?
Well, not exactly. Not all bridges are made the same. Some are made from noble metals (like gold), some are made from “silver” metals, some are made from metal with white porcelain fused on top (these are the most common currently), and some are biocompatible and completely metal free.
Then there’s the “construction” type. Do the attachments act like crowns and completely cover the adjacent teeth? Does the dentist cut away a large portion of healthy teeth on either side in order to place a bridge? Are there more conservative bridges that conserve more teeth? The answer is “yes” to all of the above.
Choosing the Right Bridge for You:
At The Center for Natural Dentistry in Encinitas, we only place metal-free, biocompatible bridges. We are a holistic dental practice in San Diego County, and our focus is on doing work that’s good for your mouth and your body. That means that we always strive to create the strongest, most conservative bridges possible. In most cases, this results in a biocompatible onlay bridge or inlay bridge. While metal bridges are certainly strong, they can actually be too strong, causing the tooth to weaken under the bridge and eventually leading to the loos of the tooth (does this pattern sound familiar: You have a cavity, fill it with an amalgam filling. Decay forms around the filling. Filling is redone. More decay. Root Canal. Root Canal fails, so you get a crown. Crown fails, so you have the tooth pulled and get a metal bridge. Teeth holding the bridge decay and need to be pulled. Metal dentures replace the missing teeth. Metal often causes future dental problems and can sometimes lead to other systemic and acute health problems).
So what’s the answer? A bridge that is strong, forgiving, esthetically pleasing, metal-free, and doesn’t unnecessarily and expressively remove healthy teeth.
That’s exactly what we do at our Encinitas holistic dental practice. We make strong, metal-free onlay and inlay bridges that conserve surrounding teeth because they require less material to anchor the bridge in. We make some of these bridges in a high-quality laboratory and some on our Cerec machine on the office. The result is less healthy tooth loss and a long-lasting, strong, biocompatible bridge.
So if inlay and onlay bridges are better, why do they sometimes cost more? Well, there are a variety of factors that go into the cost of a bridge. Materials used is a large part of it. The difficulty in properly placing a bridge so it will last and won’t create decay in the adjacent teeth is also part of it. The amount of skill and experience required to place an inlay bridge is often higher than that for a traditional bridge. As the old saying goes: you get what you pay for. If you want a bridge that will last a long time, will create a solid biting surface, won’t do necessary damage to the adjacent teeth, won’t cause harm to your overall health, and looks natural in your mouth (both along the gumline and in in conjunction with the surrounding teeth), then this is probably the type of bridge you are looking for.
Some pictures are below to illustrate exactly what an inlay bridge. This is one of the biocompatible inlay bridges made at our Encinitas holistic dental practice.