A dental bridge is a type of partial denture, a solid restorative structure that “bridges a gap” between two teeth. Bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants and are an excellent way to replace missing teeth. They can be either permanently attached or are removable.
Fixed bridges do not come out. They are not removable, although they may need to be re-cemented or replaced. Fixed bridges are applied by either placing crowns on the abutment teeth, or by resin bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth. They help preserve facial shape, restore chewing and smiling, and prevent the neighboring teeth from drifting.
A removable bridge (removable partial denture) is made of artificial teeth with small precision attachments on either side that anchor them to the neighboring teeth. Removable bridges are easier to clean than the fixed bridges, but slightly less retentive.
Why do I need a bridge?
Any patient who has lost a tooth or multiple teeth but still has some natural teeth and is in decent oral health can benefit from a bridge. Bridges are naturally and realistically looking, and often help improve the patient’s facial structure and smile. One of the most important reasons for a bridge is maintaining good dental health. When a tooth or several teeth are missing, chewing is difficult and puts unusual stress on the remaining teeth and gum tissues, which can cause a number of potentially harmful disorders, including bone loss. A bridge can minimize the development of gum disease—a side effect due to missing teeth.
How is a bridge attached?
It usually takes two to three appointments to complete the procedure.
- During the first appointment, your dentist will reshape the abutment teeth on either side of the gap by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin from the tooth surface and reducing their size. A local anesthetic is injected to the teeth to make the procedure more comfortable.
- Impressions of the teeth are taken to ensure correct bite and match the opposing teeth. The impressions are then sent to the lab where the custom-fit bridge will be crafted.
- The finished bridge is adjusted to insure proper fitting and then permanently cemented to the natural teeth with crowns covering the abutment teeth, and the missing tooth is replaced by a pontic (false tooth.) The prosthetic structure is solid and keeps the surrounding teeth from shifting.
What materials are used?
Dental bridges can be constructed from gold alloys, non-precious alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Porcelain is often bonded to either precious or non-precious metal.
How do I take care of my bridge?
Dental bridges require a good oral health care, as teeth covered by crowns are also susceptible to tooth decay. Additionally, cleaning under the pontic (missing tooth) is also very important. Regular brushing and flossing is critical, as plaque can accumulate and lead to gingivitis and gum disease. Good daily home care and regular dental checkups can help minimize or prevent oral health problems.