A dental bridge is used to replace missing tooth/teeth using a mixture of crowns and false teeth, bridges are bonded to existing teeth (or implants) and are a fixed solution and cannot be removed like dentures.
Why would I need a bridge?
Bridges span the space where teeth are missing. Gaps left by missing teeth can cause problems with eating and speech, and teeth either side of the gap may grow into the space at an angle. It may also put more strain on surrounding teeth which may lead to fractured teeth. Bridges are a fixed option unlike dentures that are removable.
Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth (or implants) surrounding the empty space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge. A replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to the crowns that cover the abutments.
How is a bridge prepared?
The preparation of a bridge depends on the TYPE of bridge that you are having made. But in short the dentist will usually give you a local anaesthetic, they will then prepare the teeth either side of the gap to the ideal shape for the crown to fit onto, this will involve removing a layer of the outer surface of these teeth.
Once the teeth are shaped your dentist will taken an impression of these teeth and surrounding area, one of the opposite jaw and possibly another to show how you bite together. The impressions then are sent to a dental technician along with instructions on what type of bridge they wish to be prepared, which shade and any further information regarding the bridge.
A temporary crown will usually be placed on your prepared teeth but this is not always necessary. This crown maybe more noticeable but it is only a temporary solution.
How is the bridge fitted?
When you and your dentist are happy with the fit and appearance of the bridge it will be fixed in place with a dental cement or adhesive, this forms a seal to hold the bridge in place. Depending on the type of bridge that you have there are different cements/adhesive’s that are available to use.
How long does the treatment take?
You will need to have two firsts. The first visit is to prepare the teeth, take impressions and fit temporary crowns if necessary. The impressions of your mouth will be sent away to a dental technician who will construct your bridge. The second visit your dentist will fit the permanent bridge. There is usually 1-2weeks in between the two appointments.
Will the bridge feel different?
Because the shape of the crowns will be slightly different from the shape of your tooth before it was crowned you may be aware of it at first. You may also be aware of the gap that used be empty now has a tooth present. Within a few days it should feel fine and you will not notice it. The bridge may need some adjustments if your bite does not feel comfortable, you should ask your dentist to check and adjust it.
How do I care for my bridge?
It is important to keep the bridge just as clean as you would your natural teeth. The bridge itself cannot decay, but decay can start where the edge of the crowns joins the teeth. Brush twice daily and clean inbetween your teeth with floss or interdental brushes daily. Your dentist may also advise special floss that goes under the pontic part of the bridge to ensure this stays clean. Speak to your dentist or oral health education at the practice if you feel you are struggling to effectively clean your bridge or for further cleaning advice.
How long will the bridge last?
How long your bridge lasts depends on how well you look after it and the condition of the teeth that are anchoring the bridge in. Your dentist will be able to give you how long it should be expected to last.
What different types of bridges are there?
Traditional bridges: these are the most common dental bridges. They involve creating a crown for the tooth (abutment) on either side of the missing tooth, with a replacement tooth (pontic) in between. Traditional bridges are made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramic.
Cantilever bridges: these bridges are used when the replacement tooth can only be supported from one side. A cantilever dental bridge is typically used when the space is small and the stresses will be minimal. Your dentist will discuss the indications for this type of dental bridge.
Maryland bonded bridges: this dental bridge is most commonly used to bridge front teeth together. The Maryland bridge technique, named after the University of Maryland Dental School where it was developed, uses metal or resin “wings” on each side of the bridge that are bonded to the existing teeth. A Maryland bonded bridge is also called a resin-bonded bridge. One of its big advantages is that it requires very little shaping, if any, of the anchor teeth.
Implant-supported dental bridges: these bridges are recommended if you’re missing more than one tooth. This technique involves the placement of two or more dental implants with space between them. These implants serve as the abutments (anchors) for the permanently cemented bridgework. Because dental implants simulate tooth roots, they maintain the integrity of the jaw bone and provide a solid support for the bridge.
As with crowns, bridges are made of several different types of materials, gold, alloy, porcelain or a combination of all of them. Material selection is based on your existing dentition, the area of the mouth to be restored and the type of bridge to be used. Your dentist will recommend the best bridge to keep your mouth at its healthiest and you at your happiest.