If you’ve recently lost a tooth, you may be a candidate for a Maryland bridge. Unlike traditional bridges, Maryland bridges don’t involve enamel removal. This makes them a minimally invasive dental restoration.

This article explains what a Maryland bridge is, how it differs from other tooth replacement options, and what to expect from a Maryland bridge procedure.

What is a Maryland Dental Bridge?

A Maryland dental bridge is a permanent dental bridge that replaces a missing tooth. It got its name from the University of Maryland.

The concept is similar to a traditional bridge. It involves a floating false tooth that replaces the missing one. Your dentist will attach the prosthetic tooth to the neighboring teeth on either side of the gap, creating a seamless smile.

However, a Maryland bridge bonds to the surrounding teeth differently than a regular bridge. Instead of fully covering the teeth on either side with a dental crown, a Maryland bridge uses a thin metal framework that attaches to your natural teeth.

 

Who Is a Good Candidate for a Maryland Bridge?

A Maryland bridge is not a tooth replacement option for everyone. They’re best if you have good oral hygiene and healthy existing teeth.

Your dentist may recommend a Maryland bridge if you meet the following criteria:

  • You’re missing one tooth or a maximum of two teeth in a row
  • The gap created by the missing tooth is among your front teeth (not a molar)
  • You’re not a candidate for a dental implant procedure
  • You practice excellent dental hygiene
  • You get professional teeth cleanings and dental exams twice a year

How Much Does a Maryland Bridge Cost?

Generally, a Maryland bridge will cost about $1,000 to $2,300.2 Insurance may cover some of the cost.

The cost of a Maryland dental bridge will vary depending on several factors, including:

  • Whether or not you have dental insurance and how much your plan covers
  • The number of missing teeth you need replaced
  • Difficulty in placing the Maryland bridge
  • Additional treatments required for other dental problems

Getting a Maryland bridge is much less expensive than a dental implant procedure. However, Maryland bridges don’t last as long as dental implants. Consider the replacement cost before making a decision.

 

Pros and Cons of Maryland Bridges

Like all dental procedures, there are pros and cons to Maryland bridges. Consider these before undergoing the procedure.

Pros

Advantages of Maryland dental bridges include:

  • Non-invasive and generally low-risk compared to other dental procedures
  • Don’t require anesthesia to prepare the teeth
  • Can be done quickly with minimal preparation
  • Pain-free and no downtime for recovery
  • Cost-effective compared to other dental procedures
  • Don’t require the dentist to remove healthy tooth enamel from the abutment teeth (supporting tooth)
  • Don’t permanently alter healthy adjacent teeth
  • Provide a seamless smile to people missing one or two front teeth
  • Hygienic and allow you to brush and floss
  • Require fewer dentist appointments than other bridges and implants
  • Easy to replace

Cons

Disadvantages of Maryland dental bridges include:

  • May not be feasible for all teeth (such as molars in the back of the mouth)
  • High failure rate — about ⅓ need to be rebonded after a few years1
  • Bonding on Maryland bridge wings may cause adjacent teeth to darken
  • Can cause tooth decay if not cleaned properly
  • May not perfectly match natural teeth
  • Only for people with good oral hygiene and no tooth decay
  • Not suitable for people who are missing more than two teeth

 

What Does a Maryland Bridge Look Like?

A Maryland bridge is designed to give you a natural-looking smile. The bridge includes a porcelain prosthetic tooth attached to two wings. The wings are made of thin metal and look like bat wings.

The false tooth is shaded to match your natural tooth color, and the metal wings attach to the backs of your intact teeth. This allows Maryland bridges to blend in with your other teeth.

 

Maryland Bridges vs. Traditional Dental Bridges

The main difference between a Maryland bridge and a traditional dental bridge is how they attach to neighboring teeth.

Traditional Bridges

A traditional dental bridge attaches to crowns on either side of the false tooth. Placing a crown requires your dentist to shave down enamel from your intact teeth.

These bridges permanently alter the structure of the teeth on either side of the missing tooth.

Maryland Bridges

Instead of crowns, a Maryland dental bridge attaches to thin metal wings bonded to the back of your teeth. Your dentist will bond the metal framework from the false tooth to the supporting teeth with a composite resin.

The metal wings don’t require enamel removal to bond to the surrounding teeth. A Maryland bridge preserves healthy tooth enamel, making it a conservative tooth replacement option.

What Happens During a Maryland Bridge Procedure?

A Maryland dental bridge is a simple, quick, and non-invasive procedure.

During the procedure, your dentist will:

  • Make a mold so that a dental laboratory can make your customized bridge.
  • Lightly etch the back of your adjacent teeth to improve the bonding surfaces.
  • Apply a bonding agent to the back of each adjacent tooth.
  • Place the bridge’s metal wings to the bonding resin on the back of each tooth, fitting the false porcelain tooth in the gap from the missing tooth.
  • Cure the resin to secure the dental bridge in place.

Dental Bridge Recovery

Here’s what to expect after a Maryland bridge procedure:

Downtime

There isn’t any downtime following a Maryland dental bridge placement, and you should not experience any pain.

Once you leave your appointment to have your dental bridge put in place, you should be able to eat, chew, and speak normally.

However, you may experience the following symptoms a few hours after the procedure:

  • Discomfort
  • Mild gum swelling
  • Mild sensitivity

Aftercare

Maryland bridges last between 12 to 21 years.4 Proper aftercare will help yours last longer.

Aftercare tips for Maryland bridges include:

  • Brush your teeth daily
  • Rinse with mouthwash to keep your mouth clean
  • Floss daily to minimize tooth decay
  • Avoid hard and cold foods that trigger tooth sensitivity
  • Contact your dentist immediately if you suspect something is wrong with your bridge

Maryland Bridge Alternatives

There are many alternative options to Maryland bridges. If you’re not a good candidate for a Maryland bridge, your dentist may recommend one of the following:

Other Types of Dental Bridges

A Maryland bridge is just one of four types of dental bridges. The others include:

  • Conventional or traditional fixed bridges — require crowns (retainers) to attach to the abutment teeth.
  • Cantilever bridges — have one abutment tooth for support rather than two.
  • Implant-supported bridges — placed over two dental implants.