What is a dental bridge?
Dental bridges are natural-looking tooth replacements that help to maintain facial structure, reduce stress on the jaw, and fill in the gaps caused by missing teeth. Dental bridges replace missing teeth with a short row of artificial teeth that rely on the strength of surrounding natural teeth, called abutment teeth, to help stabilize the bite. Bridges also help keep adjacent teeth from moving into the open space left by the missing tooth.
Why is a dental bridge necessary?
Improving both the function and appearance of the mouth are important reasons to wear a bridge. A bridge provides support to any area in the mouth with missing teeth. The loss of a back tooth may result in sunken cheeks, causing the face to look older.
With lost teeth, there is a risk of further dental deterioration. Problems with biting, chewing, and speaking may develop. In addition, the patient may experience headaches, muscle pain, and an unattractive appearance. A mouth with its full complement of teeth is essential for many daily functions. Also, damaged or missing teeth can lead to other serious dental conditions like gum disease, infection, and loss of even more teeth.
What are the types of dental bridges?
There are three types of dental bridges: traditional or fixed bridges, resin-bonded or Maryland-bonded bridges which are usually used for front teeth, and cantilever bridges which are usually used in the back of the mouth. In our office we typically use a traditional, fixed bridge.
How is a dental bridge attached?
It usually takes two dental appointments to get a bridge properly attached. To make sure there’s a perfect fit and correct bite, the dentist will take a scan – we call it an ‘intraoral scan’ – of the teeth. The scan is then sent to a lab where a skilled technician creates a dental bridge. Once the bridge is complete, and the dentist has made sure it properly fits the patient’s mouth, it is cemented to the natural teeth on either side of the gap and a ‘false tooth’ – we call it a pontic – is affixed.
What materials are used for a dental bridge?
Dental bridges may be made of porcelain, gold, ceramic, metal alloys or a combination of these materials. Porcelain is sometimes fused to metal for both durability and aesthetics. In our office we primarily use zirconia – a type of ceramic that’s stronger than porcelain – along with some metal alloys.
How should a dental bridge be maintained?
Bridges should be cared for just like natural teeth. The patient should be sure to thoroughly brush and floss around the bridge and surrounding teeth. As always, it is important to practice proper oral hygiene to prevent the build-up of bacteria and plaque on the teeth and gums.