If you have lost a permanent tooth in your mouth and are not a good candidate for dental implants, then a bridge may be your next best tooth replacement option. While most people choose to have traditional bridges placed in the mouth, there are other types that you can choose from, like a cantilever bridge. Keep reading to learn more about this bridge variety.
What Is A Cantilever Bridge?
Traditional bridges are fixed prosthetics with three different distinctive parts. The full artificial tooth, or pontic, sits in the middle of the device and two attached crowns sit on either side of it. The crowns then attach to the two teeth that sit on the right and left side of the missing tooth openings. To receive this sort of bridge, you will need two healthy teeth so the crowns can be attached. These teeth will be ground down to the dentin. This means that all or almost all of the enamel is ground away to make room for the crowns. If the crown teeth are the molars, then as much as 2.5 millimeters of enamel will be released.
In some cases, there is only one healthy tooth sitting next to the missing tooth. When this happens, a traditional and full bridge cannot be secured in the mouth. Maryland and cantilever bridges are considered when a traditional bridge is not optimal. Maryland bridges feature metal fins that anchor to the teeth adjacent to the pontic. However, this device also requires two teeth to adhere to.
When only a single tooth is present, then a cantilever bridge is the best option. This bridge has one crown on the right or left side of the pontic. The tooth is prepared for a crown just like it would be if a fixed bridge were being added. However, since only a single crown will be adhered in place, the tooth will be responsible for supplying the entire bridge with strength. The crown tooth must be strong, intact, and one of the teeth that retains less stress. For example, a cantilever can be used to replace a canine or an incisor, but it may not be a good choice for a molar or a premolar.
How Do You Care For A Cantilever Bridge?
If you have a cantilever bridge placed in your mouth, then you should care for the device like you would a typical bridge. You will need to clean around the device with a proxy brush or an end tufted brush so food and plaque are removed from around the edges of the pontic and the crown tooth. Also, you will need to pay close attention to the gum line around the crown tooth. Food can work its way under the gums and close to the lip between the crown and the tooth. This can cause cavities to grow underneath the crown, so it is wise to use a water flosser along the gum line to prevent this.
You also will need to watch how much pressure you place on the cantilever bridge. Typical bridges have two crown teeth that can retain stress. Since the cantilever only has one, the crown can become dislodged if too much pressure is placed on the pontic or the crown. Make sure to speak to your dentist, someone like Rick Chavez DDS, about possible tooth grinding issues, especially if you think your may grind at night. Some signs of bruxism include a sore jaw, tooth sensitivity, tight facial muscles, and chipped teeth. If you notice these things, then a nighttime grinding guard can be created to protect your bridge as well as your other teeth.