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What is a Maryland Bridge?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A Maryland bridge is an effective way to replace a missing tooth. Developed at the University of Maryland, this type of dental bridge allows a false tooth to be positioned in the space where an existing tooth once was. While innovative, the Maryland bridge has a few drawbacks that have yet to be addressed. The two major problems with the Maryland bridge have to do with the way that the bridge is put together.

A Maryland bridge consists of two metal wings that are adhered to a false tooth. These metal wings are porous, so that an adhesive can be effectively applied. Once an adhesive has been affixed to the metal wings, the metal sides are then glued to the back of the teeth closest to the missing tooth area. Patients whoundergo this type of dental work do not experience a large amount of pain, and most patients only experience slight discomfort, which makes this procedure a popular choice.

Aesthetically, this kind of bridge is not an optimal choice for a few reasons. Since natural teeth tend to be somewhat translucent, the metal portion of the bridge causes teeth to darken. This creates an uneven tooth color, which some patients may not desire. In addition, the discoloration caused by the metal wings will cause the false tooth to stand out from the teeth surrounding it.

Further, the false tooth that is adhered to the metal wings is usually made from thick porcelain. Porcelain can match the white color of natural teeth, but porcelain is not translucent. Thus, the false tooth that is placed within the mouth will not blend in well with other, natural, teeth. While the color of the false tooth is a seemingly large drawback, there is a way to rectify this situation.

It is possible to replace a traditional Maryland bridge tooth with a tooth that is more aesthetically appealing. False teeth that are made from translucent materials are often the most pleasing to patients. Aside from the two aesthetic drawbacks mentioned, this type of bridge is an innovative way to replace a missing tooth.

The Maryland bridge requires very little, if any, natural tooth removal. Teeth that surround the missing tooth will not be affected by the installation of this bridge. Thus, this is one of the less invasive forms of dental reconstruction. In most cases, this procedure can be easily reversed with minimal patient pain or discomfort.

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Discussion Comments

By anon316433 — On Jan 28, 2013

The two upper teeth on the right and left side of my front teeth are missing. It sounds like I would need two maryland bridges, correct? One space is bigger then the other. Will this affect the cost of one of the bridges?

By anon124435 — On Nov 05, 2010

if either side of a single tooth you have two natural teeth then a maryland would be possible. if the three teeth are missing in a row and are back teeth (molars or premolars) than generally any sort of bridge would not be advisable.

The bottom two could be restored using using two cantilever bridges; one for each tooth missing. Briefly, a natural tooth next to one missing tooth region has a crown made over it. this crown has a preattached false tooth to replace the single "empty" area. hope that helps. --Final year dental student.

By hhalepis — On Aug 20, 2009

Hi. Seeking the help of a dental professional is probably the best way to go in this situation.

Most professionals offer free consultations that should answer most of your questions. Good luck!

By anon41617 — On Aug 16, 2009

In the upper left side of my mouth, I have 3 teeth missing; would a Maryland bridge be appropriate for them? I also have 2 bottom, front teeth missing; could I use a Maryland bridge on them also? This is important to me as I will no longer want to undergo any surgical procedures on my teeth.

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