Last Updated: Feb 15, 2013
Dental bridges are a fixed or removable tooth replacement supported at each end by a natural tooth. The bridge covers the gap created by the missing tooth or teeth restoring patient's smiles.
A dental bridge consists of two crowns mounted on the natural teeth on either side of the gap and an artificial tooth/teeth in between. The artificial teeth can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of all the materials.
The life span of dental bridges is from 5 to 15 years depending on oral hygiene and regular checkups.
There are three main types of dental bridges:
Traditional bridges: made from porcelain fused to metal or ceramic. It is a crown for the tooth or implant on either side of the missing tooth with an artificial tooth in between.
Cantilever bridges used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth.
Maryland bonded bridges: made from plastic teeth and gums supported by a metal framework with metal wings on each side of the bridge bonded to the patient's existing teeth.
Why Get Dental Bridges?
Patients need dental bridges to:
- Restore a patient's smile
- Restore the ability to properly chew and speak
- Maintain the shape of a patient's face
- Distribute the forces in a patient’s bite properly by replacing missing teeth
- Prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position
The Dental Bridge Treatment
The first visit, the dentist will prepare the abutment teeth by re-contouring these teeth and removing a portion of the enamel to allow room for the crown to be placed over them. Then, he or she will make teeth impressions to serve as a model for the bridge, the imitation tooth, and/or crowns to be made at the dental lab. Finally, he or she will make a temporary bridge to wear and protect the exposed teeth and gums.
During the second visit, the dentist will remove the temporary bridge, then check and adjust it as necessary to achieve a proper fit. Multiple visits may be required to check the fit of the metal framework and bite.
When the dental bridge is a fixed bridge, the dentist may temporarily cement it in place for a couple of weeks to make sure it fits properly. After a couple weeks, he or she will permanently cement the bridge into place.
Dental Bridge Care
- Keep the surrounding teeth beside the bridge as healthy and strong as possible.
- Brush and floss daily to prevent decay and gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss. Keep a balanced diet for proper nutrition.
- Schedule dentist checkups regularly to diagnose problems at an early stage.