When you lose a tooth, your dentist can use many solutions to fill the empty space, including implants, dentures and traditional bridges. A traditional bridge literally bridges the gap in your mouth, using the teeth next to the empty space to hold a floating tooth.
Each type of dental bridge has a unique design to adhere to existing teeth, including Maryland bridges. Learn more about this type of bridge, and speak with your dentist to see if this particular device might be right for you.
What Is a Maryland Bridge?
A Maryland bridge is also known as a resin-bonded fixed partial denture. Like a traditional bridge, it includes a floating tooth to replace the missing one, but it adheres to the adjacent teeth in a unique way. Instead of fully covering the teeth next to the missing space with crowns, this device bonds to the existing teeth using a metal framework, as the Cleveland Clinic explains.
The appearance of the Maryland bridge is like a flying bat, with the false tooth in the center and the two wings reaching out on either side to bond to the tongue side of the supporting teeth. Because the Maryland bridge does not fully cover the adjacent teeth, it offers a more conservative approach compared with other tooth replacement options.
The materials used in a Maryland bridge are traditionally a combination of metal and dental ceramic, as a case report in the Journal of Dentistry of Tehran University of Medical Sciences summarizes. The metal forms the strong framework and wings of the bridge, while the floating tooth is made of ceramic to blend in with your existing teeth.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Maryland Bridges
In some situations, a Maryland bridge can be a more viable solution compared with other bridges. For example, if an individual is still growing but needs a replacement front tooth, a Maryland bridge offers a minimally invasive solution, as a review in the Journal of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry (JERD) explains. A dentist can simply attach the bridge to the backside of the teeth with adhesive to provide a natural-looking, fixed tooth.
Additionally, for those who may be too ill to undergo invasive dental procedures or surgeries, such as an implant procedure, placing a Maryland bridge can be a good option. As a report in the Journal of Clinical Case Reports notes, anesthesia is usually not needed when placing this type of bridge.
As the JERD review explains, a Maryland bridge also helps to preserve tooth structure because it doesn't involve placing full crowns over any teeth. Maryland bridges are also typically cheaper than alternative options, such as implants. According to a study published in the Australian Dental Journal, resin-bonded bridges like Maryland bridges can last 12 to 21 years in the front teeth with a 95.1% probability of success.
While it can be very successful, the Maryland bridge is not perfect. Bonding metal behind a natural tooth can make the supporting teeth appear darker in color, as the JERD review explains. However, to address this problem, new, all-ceramic options are emerging.
How to Take Care of Your Maryland Bridge
If you and your dentist decide that a Maryland bridge is the right treatment option for your missing tooth, it's important to keep your bridge clean. If the wings on the supporting teeth become loose, plaque can build up under the metal and lead to cavities, as an article in Dental Update explains.
Maintain a rigorous oral hygiene routine of twice-daily brushing and daily flossing to minimize your risk of tooth decay, and try an interdental device if traditional floss doesn't work well for you. Additionally, if you suspect something's wrong with your device, see your dentist so that they can determine if your bridge needs repairs.
A Maryland bridge can be a great solution for people missing a tooth. If you're looking to get treatment, speak with your dentist about your options.