Much like its traditional dental bridge counterpart, the Maryland bridge is used to replace missing teeth. It was named after the University of Maryland’s dental school where the procedure was popularized. There are however key differences that make the treatment not suitable for anyone who would otherwise get a dental bridge or replace teeth with dental implants. In order to understand who is a candidate for a Maryland bridge, let’s get a better understanding of what it is.
What is the difference between a Maryland bridge and a traditional dental bridge?
With a traditional dental bridge, the dentist first shaves down the enamel of the teeth neighboring the site of the missing tooth or teeth. The dentist then cements a dental prosthesis known as a dental bridge that essentially bridges the gap where the missing teeth used to be.
A Maryland bridge is a more conservative approach to dentistry. Instead of shaving down the enamel of nearby teeth in order to create a support structure for the bridge, the bridge is bonded to the back of the neighboring teeth. This results in an esthetically pleasing result without needing to shave down the nearby teeth.
When can a Maryland bridge be used?
While many people would be drawn to the conservative nature of the Maryland bridge, it’s not the right solution for everyone with a missing tooth. The key difference to note is that the Maryland bridge doesn’t have very strong support. This means that Maryland bridges can’t be placed in areas of the mouth used for chewing.
This lack of support also means that it can’t be used to bridge a large gap from multiple missing teeth. Instead, it’s used to bridge the gap left by one missing tooth.
These limitations mean that the Maryland bridge can only be used in instances when it’s replacing one missing tooth in the front, non-chewing, part of the mouth.
Who is a candidate for a Maryland bridge?
Some of the best candidates for a Maryland bridge are children with congenitally missing teeth. Since it’s usually one tooth missing and the tooth is usually in the esthetic zone of the mouth a Maryland bridge can often be a good solution. This makes a Maryland bridge a great interim solution for children with congenitally missing teeth until their bones fully mature and are able to support dental implants.
Adults can get Maryland bridges too, but since adults already have fully matured bones a dentist may recommend dental implants instead since they are often the superior option for replacing missing teeth.
Dental implants vs. dental bridges
There are certain disadvantage that come with traditional and Maryland bridges that make dental implants the superior option.
- Both traditional bridges and Maryland bridges don’t engage with the tissue underneath them. This leads the body to absorb the bone underneath the bridge in a “use-it-or-lose-it” process known as bone resorption. Over time a visible gap will appear underneath the bridge as the bone and gum tissue get absorbed back into the body.
- Traditional bridges require shaving down neighboring teeth which could cause issues down the line. Meanwhile, dental implants leave neighboring teeth intact
- Maryland bridges can only be used in areas of the mouth where strong support is not required, wheres dental implants can provide all the support of a natural tooth.
If you are missing a tooth and are considering a Maryland bridge, make sure to discuss all of your dental options with your dentists. Dentists that take a comprehensive approach, like the ones in our downtown DC dental office, will consider all treatment option and their short- and long-term implications. If you would like a dental consultation, don’t hesitate to book an appointment at our downtown DC dental office.