A dental bridge is a type of fixed prosthesis used to replace a missing tooth or teeth by connecting an artificial tooth to adjacent teeth or implants. As the name suggests, a bridge spans the area where the teeth are missing. The false tooth or teeth are attached to the natural teeth or implants on either side of the gap.
The teeth or implants supporting the bridge are known as abutments. Depending on the type of bridge, these natural abutment teeth may have to be reduced in size so that the bridge will be able to fit comfortably over them.
The Benefits of a Dental Bridge
Dental bridges can provide you with numerous benefits for your physical and emotional health. These include:
- Aesthetic Improvements: A dental bridge can give you your smile back and maintain the shape of your face.
- Better Function: These toothlike prostheses will restore your ability to chew and speak properly. They’ll also distribute your bite forces properly and prevent your remaining teeth from drifting out of position.
- Greater Confidence: With a great smile back on your face and the knowledge that you can eat and talk normally, you’ll experience a significant boost to your self-esteem.
Frequently Asked Question
What is a bridge?
A dental bridge is a replacement for missing teeth. If you have lost any teeth, you may have been left with a series of unsightly gaps. If the gaps are not filled with replacement teeth then there is a risk of bone loss ( ‘bone resorption’), which can impact your facial appearance.
A bridge acts as an anchor for two crowns and consists of a false tooth called a ‘pontic’ which sits between the two crowns. The ‘pontic’ is inserted into the gap made by the missing tooth, and is flanked on either side by the two crowns. The crowns fit over your natural teeth on either side of the gap. The two anchoring teeth are called ‘abutment teeth’.
The ‘pontic’ can be made from porcelain, gold, alloy or any combination of these materials.
A bridge can prevent bone loss, gum disease or decay caused by the presence of food debris in the gap created by the missing tooth, and it will relieve pressure on the teeth either side of the gap. An enamel-bonded bridge uses a metal or porcelain framework to attach the artificial teeth which is then resin bonded to the supporting teeth.
If you stick to a healthy oral regime, such as brushing twice a day, flossing and regular check ups, your bridge can last for up to 15 years. A dental bridge can give you a natural looking appearance as well as resolving any ‘bite’ problems that you may have. But be aware, it can cause your teeth to feel a bit sensitive for the first few weeks after it has been fitted. Your dentist will discuss this form of treatment with you as well as assessing your suitability for crowns or bridgework.
What does a traditional dental bridge consist of?
Typically, a dental bridge includes two or more crowns for the abutment teeth anchoring the bridge. The false tooth or teeth, known as pontics, lie in between these crowns. They can be made from porcelain, gold, alloys, or combinations of these.
Our dentists will take impressions of the abutment teeth or implants and the space between them. The impression is then used to create a mould for the bridge, which is fabricated in a dental laboratory.
How do I get a dental bridge?
Getting dental bridges is a process that usually requires multiple trips to your dentist. During your first visit, your abutment teeth will be prepared for your dental bridge. Your dentist will remove a portion of the tooth enamel to create room for a crown to be placed over it.
Next, impressions of your teeth will be made. They’ll serve as a model from which a dental lab will create the bridge. Your dentist will provide you with a temporary bridge while this is being done to help protect your exposed teeth and gums.
Your temporary bridge will be removed during your second visit, and your new bridge will be checked. If necessary, your dentist will make adjustments to achieve a proper fit.
Depending on your circumstances, your oral situation, and your dental bridge, you may require multiple visits to check the fit of the framework and the bite.
If your bridge is a fixed bridge, your dentist may temporarily cement it in place for a few weeks to ensure that the fit is correct. Once your dentist is confident of this, the bridge will then be permanently cemented into place.
How long does a dental bridge last for?
Most dental bridges will last for between 5 to 15 years, or even longer! With good oral hygiene and regular checkups, many fixed bridges last for over a decade.