When you have missing teeth, there is a risk for the adjacent teeth to shift into the gap and potentially cause issues with other teeth and the jaw line. Dental bridges are a solution to missing teeth by filling the space with false teeth, or pontics, held in place by abutments to create a bridge from the abutments across the gap. Pontics are usually constructed from porcelain and color matched to your existing teeth for a natural look. Dental bridges may have one pontic or multiples. We have put together more information on the types of dental bridges, how insurance can affect costs, and where you can seek dental bridge treatment in Houston.
Benefits of a dental bridge
Missing teeth are not just a cosmetic issue. Dental bridges not only improve your smile, but also the structure of your jaw and mouth. When you have missing teeth, the gap allows the surrounding teeth the ability to drift into the space, resulting in uneven wear on the existing teeth and a misaligned bite. Drooping of the jaw and lips may also occur without all of your teeth to help maintain the jaw and mouth structure, affecting the overall shape of your face. Missing teeth can affect our ability to properly and easily chew food and it may affect your speech and pronunciation of some words.
Candidates for dental bridges
Most people missing one or more teeth are good candidates for a dental bridge provided they have good oral health. Some dental bridges require the teeth adjacent to the missing teeth be strong enough to properly support abutments that hold the pontic or multiple pontics. Good bone density is essential to support implant-supported bridges, and for those lacking in this area, a bone graft may be necessary before placing the titanium posts that will hold the pontics. It is important to have any periodontal disease or gum issues treated prior to future procedures. The professionals at Voss Dental can assess whether you are a good candidate for dental bridges and develop a treatment plan to address any periodontal issues you may have that could pose a problem for future treatment.
Types of dental bridges
The traditional bridge is the most common type of dental bridge; however, it requires the natural teeth still be in place on each side of the gap. A traditional dental bridge is built with pontics attached to dental crowns that are cemented in place on the abutment teeth on each side of the gap.
A Maryland dental bridge also requires the natural teeth to still be in place on either side of the gap. The difference between a Maryland bridge and a traditional bridge is with the abutment teeth. Instead of dental crowns holding the pontic in place, a Maryland bridge is constructed of metal or porcelain that is bonded to the back sides of the natural teeth serving as the abutment teeth.
A cantilever bridge is similar to the traditional bridge, but only requires one natural tooth to serve as an abutment. With a cantilever bridge, the dental crown is cemented to the one natural tooth and holds the pontic in place as it is suspended across the gap.
Implant-supported, or fixed
An implant-supported, or fixed, dental crown is a more invasive procedure that must be completed by an oral surgeon. With an implant-supported dental bridge, titanium posts are implanted in the gum and bone where teeth are missing. These posts serve as the abutments that will hold the pontic or multiple pontics. To be a good candidate for an implant-supported bridge, you must have sufficient bone density to support the implant. There may be a need for a bone graph to build up the bone density.
This is a multi-step procedure in which the first surgery involves installing the titanium posts into the gum and bone. Temporary false teeth are attached to the posts to allow normal talking, eating, and smiling. The healing time for these incisions is about four to five months. Once healed, permanent crowns are cemented to the titanium posts. Implant-supported dental bridges are considered permanent due to the implants that are placed in the bone.
Cost of Dental Bridges
With four different types of dental bridges comes a wide range in cost with some being more affordable than others. A dental bridges cost breakdown shows that traditional, Maryland, and cantilever dental bridges are similar in price, typically ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 for one pontic and the appropriate abutments. Implant-supported, or fixed, dental bridges are the most expensive. The advantage of the implant-supported dental bridge is that the titanium posts are considered permanent and expected to last a lifetime, never needing replacement.
There are several factors that determine the pricing of dental bridges. One of the primary determinations of price are the number of missing teeth and required number of pontics to fill the space. Another big determining variable is the material used to create the pontic(s). Some materials have a lower cost and more affordable, but they may have a lower life expectancy so you will need to weigh the pros and cons of each option. Other factors that can have a strong impact on price include the difficulty in the placement of the dental bridge and additional dental treatments for problems such as periodontal disease. You may also find that geographic location can affect pricing as some areas simply have a higher cost for health services. Houston has experienced an increase of 14% in healthcare costs over the past five years according to a February 2020 article in the Houston Chronical.
Does Insurance Cover Dental Bridges
The short answer to this question is yes, insurance typically covers the cost of dental bridges; however, coverage can vary by provider and plans. Additionally, some insurance plans have exclusions for pre-existing conditions so you will want to make sure your dental issues are not considered pre-existing, which would make them ineligible for insurance coverage. Your insurance policy may also require a waiting period of up to one year before you are able to use your insurance for anything outside of preventative care, including dental bridges. Understanding your insurance coverage is essential in making sure you are seeking the most affordable option for your dental bridge as a solution to missing teeth.
Cost with Insurance
Your cost of a dental bridge will be significantly less with insurance coverage. Dental insurance often covers up to 50% of dental bridges, with the 40% to 50% range being most common. To avoid surprises and fully understand your financial responsibility with insurance, you should consult with your provider to confirm coverage maximum limits, copays, and deductibles.
Cost without insurance
Without insurance, you will be responsible for paying the full cost of the dental bridge plus the cost for other treatment needs. A dental bridges cost breakdown includes the dental bridge plus necessary X-rays before the procedure, office visits and possibly additional treatments to address periodontal issues. If you are getting an implant-supported dental bridge without insurance coverage, you will be responsible for additional surgical expenses. If your dental provider finds that you need a bone graft to support the titanium posts, that will be your financial responsibility without insurance as well.
The alternative to dental bridges are individual dental implants for each missing tooth. This involves placing a titanium post in the gum and bone for each missing tooth with an individual crown cemented onto each titanium post. Dental implants are considered permanent with a very long lifespan for each crown, but this is an expensive option starting at about $2,400 per missing tooth. A dental implants cost breakdown includes pre-treatment X-rays, surgical fees to place the titanium posts, and the crown or multiple crowns that are cemented in place. Additionally, if you require a bone graft, that will be an additional procedure cost. If you have several missing teeth, you can accumulate quite an expensive cost.
Where to Get Affordable Dental Bridges in Houston Texas
Dental bridges are a solution for missing teeth with several variations as options for this procedure. Voss Dental in Houston offers affordable comprehensive dental care, including dental bridges, and we accept many insurance plans. Our staff of skilled professionals are eager to meet with you and discuss your options for improved oral health. Give us a call at (713) 497-1163.