If you are missing a couple of teeth, a fixed dental appliance like a bridge can be a good option to fill in the gap. Bridges are made up of two basic components: the abutment teeth and the pontic. The abutments act as a framework and anchor to your natural teeth (e.g. with a crown) or to a dental implant. The pontic is the false tooth that fills in the gap of missing teeth and is placed between abutment teeth.

Although you may already know that the pontics can be made from a variety of materials, like porcelain or gold, you may not realize that there are different pontic shapes to choose from. Read on to learn more about different pontic options and why some may be better for your situation.

What Types of Pontics are There?

Here are just a few pontic types to consider:

Hygienic Pontic: This name can be misleading because other pontics are hygienic and able to be cleaned. However, these pontics are called hygienic pontics because they are easier to keep clean than other options since they don't rest on the gum line. The abutment teeth hold the pontic slightly above the gum line so that tartar and food debris won't collect at the base or beneath the pontic.

Full Ridge Lap: These pontics look like saddles, as they rest on both sides of your gummy ridge: the gum tissue that's near the tongue and the gum tissue nearer to the cheeks. Full-ridge lap pontics work well for posterior teeth like molars.

Partial Ridge Pontic: Instead of having a pontic that covers most of the gum tissue, partial ridges only cover the gum tissue that's closest to the cheeks.

Ovate Pontic: Ovate pontics are arguably some of the most aesthetic options out there since they have a shape that imitates the taper of natural teeth and roots in the gumline.

Which Factors Determine the Choice of Pontic?

If you have good oral health, then you may have more say when it comes to aesthetics. If you want restorations that look natural, you may want to choose ovate pontics for anterior teeth and full ridge lap for posterior ones. However, keep in mind that some ovate pontics require minor surgery, as the dentist may want to adjust the gum tissue so it fits more snugly around the pontic.

Besides aesthetics, another factor that can determine pontic shape is your jaw bone structure. If your jaw bone has atrophied, then you may not have enough natural ridge to support a full ridge lap pontic. A partial ridge lap or a hygienic pontic can be a good option in this case.

If you are prone to gingivitis or have sensitive gums, then a hygienic pontic is a good option since you'll avoid tissue irritation. If you tend to grind your teeth, then a hygienic pontic might not be a good option since extra stress could be placed on the false tooth.

Lastly, your dentist's preference will play a role when choosing a pontic. He or she can go over different shapes and which one would work best for your situation.

Contact a dentist office like Apollo Dental Center to schedule an appointment.