Aside from traditional bridges, removable dentures, and implants, another tooth replacement option your dentist might recommend is a Maryland bridge. A Maryland bridge is also considered a fixed partial denture. But unlike a traditional bridge, a Maryland bridge is much more conservative, leaving the adjacent tooth surfaces untouched. Instead of reducing the adjacent teeth and covering them with crowns to support the bridge, a Maryland bridge has a framework formed like wings bonded onto the lingual surfaces of the adjacent teeth.
Traditionally, a Maryland bridge is a combination of metal and ceramic wherein the framework is made of metal and the replacement tooth is made of ceramic. The metal framework is known to cause discoloration of the adjacent teeth. However, all-ceramic options are now readily available.
- Conservative – where as a traditional bridge requires enamel removal, a Maryland bridge does not. Etching and bonding is enough to keep the bridge in place.
- Natural looking – replaces a missing tooth, achieving a seamless smile.
- Atraumatic (anesthesia usually not needed) – since no enamel needs to be removed, no discomfort and sensitivity is expected therefore anesthesia is no longer needed.
- Cost conscious – cheaper than implants and traditional bridges.
- Long lasting – usually lasts 12-21 years, depending on various factors
- Comfortable – less periodontal irritation
- Only limited to one (or in some cases two) missing tooth
- May not be feasible for some teeth (such as molars)
- Not as stable as traditional bridges
- Less resistant to the pressure from chewing (tendency to debond)
- May discolor adjacent teeth (with metal framework)
How to care for your Maryland Bridge
The most important thing to do is to keep the bridge clean by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist every 6 months. It is also important to immediately go to the dentist if the bridge becomes loose, as plaque may build up beneath the wings and lead to cavities.