When someone is missing a tooth, they will often look for a dentist near them to replace the missing teeth. Often the best permanent solution for replacing a missing tooth that a dentist has at their disposal is a dental implant. There are certain situations in which a dental implant is not an option, however. In such cases dentists will turn to dental bridges (including Maryland bridges), partial dentures, or orthodontics in order to ‘replace’ the missing tooth or teeth.
When Will a Dentist Not Recommend Dental Implants
Here are some scenarios in which a Maryland bridge or other method of replacing teeth may be used instead of a dental implant.
- Age and congenitally missing teeth – Some people are born missing teeth in the esthetic zone – the part of the mouth that’s visible when you smile. Since children’s bones are still developing, dental implant are not a viable solution for replacing the tooth.
- Price constraints – Dental implants are not cheap when done right by a professional specializing in placing dental implants. This means that they are unaffordable to some, even with dental financing options. People who cannot afford dental implants will look for alternatives to replace missing teeth or go without.
- Not enough supporting bone or physiology – Some people do not have the right biological circumstances to allow for dental implants to be successful. While there are some grafting solutions that can help, sometimes a person is just not a candidate for dental implants.
Replacing a Missing Tooth With a Maryland Bridge
Maryland bridges were popularized in the 80’s at the University of Maryland dental school (hence the name). This method of replacing teeth became extremely popular for several reasons.
- Non-invasive – A Maryland bridge is bonded, essentially cemented, to the backs of the teeth on either side of the gap. This means that the adjacent teeth don’t need to be shaved down like they would for a traditional dental bridge.
- Cheap tooth replacement – Due to the simple nature of the Maryland bridge procedure it was far cheaper than other alternatives for replacing missing teeth.
- Esthetic tooth replacement – Despite the simplicity of the procedure, the results were esthetically pleasing.
- Wide range of use cases – Since a Maryland bridge is so cheap, simple, and non-invasive it could be used for cosmetic purposes on people of varying ages, incomes, and biological morphologies.
Despite its popularity, however, there are some significant limitations to Maryland bridges that may make them not suitable as a long term solution.
- Can only be used cosmetically – The simple bonding of the Maryland bridge makes it that it can’t be used to replace teeth that are used for chewing. The dental bonding is strong enough to keep the bridge in place but not strong enough to with stand the forces applied during chewing.
- Bone loss under the bridge – Since the jaw bone under the bridge isn’t being engaged anymore due to the missing tooth it will start getting absorbed into the body.
- Can’t be used to replace multiple teeth in a row – Due to the weaker structure of the bonding compared to traditional dental bridges or implants, a Maryland bridge can’t be used to replace multiple teeth in a row.
Since each patient is unique it’s always important to find a dentist that will discuss the treatment options available to you based on your needs and capabilities. The dentists at our dental office in Natick will be glad to meet with you and discuss the options available to replace a missing tooth, whether it’s a Maryland bridge or other solutions.