Dental Bridges 1

Dental Bridges

Whether through trauma, decay or some other reason, tooth loss can sometimes occur despite our best efforts to prevent against it. Unfortunately, regardless of where this tooth loss occurs in the mouth it can be a major problem–both cosmetically and functionally. Dental bridges are a restorative dental procedure that are designed to resolve the main issues caused by tooth loss so that the individual is more comfortable and better able to smile, talk and eat normally.

Understanding Dental Bridges and How They Work

Dental bridges are so named because they are specifically designed to bridge the gap that is created by a missing tooth or missing teeth in the mouth. Not only can they restore the individual’s smile and help to maintain the natural shape of their face, dental bridges can also restore the individual’s ability to properly chew and speak, distribute the forces in their bite correctly and prevent the other teeth from drifting out of position to fill the gap. Most dental bridges consist of crowns placed on the teeth around the gap (called abutment teeth) and a false tooth or false teeth in between them (called pontics).

Depending on an individual’s specific situation, there are several different dental bridge options, including:

  • Traditional dental bridges. This type of dental bridge is formed by placing crowns on the two natural teeth surrounding the gap in order to help support a pontic that is placed in between them. These dental bridges are usually made of porcelain and metal or ceramics, and are the most common type of dental bridge.
  • Cantilever dental bridges. This type of dental bridge is formed when there are no teeth on one side of the gap, and so the natural tooth, or abutment, on the opposite side must support the bridge and pontic on its own. These dental bridges are not commonly used today as they are not as supportive as other types of dental bridges and can therefore sometimes lead to other dental issues.
  • Maryland bonded dental bridges. This type of dental bridge is formed when metal or porcelain “wings” are bonded to your natural teeth to help hold the pontic in place, rather than placing crowns upon abutments. These dental bridges are usually made of porcelain, porcelain and metal or plastic that is supported by porcelain or metal framework. While these dental bridges do not require any enamel removal of surrounding teeth, they are also not considered to be as strong as traditional dental bridges and the framework holding them in place can create a comfort issue.
  • Implant-supported dental bridges. This type of dental bridge is formed when implants, rather than crowns or framework, support the bridge. Usually an implant is used to replace each missing tooth, and then all of the implants in the gap work together to hold the dental bridge in place. In other cases, a pontic may be supported between crowns that are placed on abutment implants.

Receiving Dental Bridges

When your dentist has determined that a dental bridge is appropriate, you will then set up several appointments. During the first appointment, the natural abutment teeth will be prepared to help support the bridge–except in the case of a Maryland bonded dental bridge or an implant-supported dental bridge. This is achieved through recontouring, which allows for the crown to be securely and comfortably placed over them. Once the abutment teeth are prepared, a dental impression is taken so that custom-made crowns, pontic and bridge can be manufactured by a dental lab. During the time it takes for your dental bridge to be made, you will wear a temporary bridge to protect your teeth and gums.

During the second appointment your custom-made bridge will be installed and then carefully checked to ensure that it fits properly and is comfortable. Your dentist can make as many adjustments as is necessary to ensure that you are able to smile, talk and eat properly and that the dental bridge is comfortable in your mouth. This may include one or multiple additional visits, especially if your bridge is a fixed bridge. Prior to permanently cementing it into place, your dentist may want to temporarily cement it into place and check it for a few weeks to ensure everything is working out properly.

When well cared-for, dental bridges can last fifteen years or longer. They should not cause difficulties in the mouth, but rather should make eating and talking much easier and should help to improve the appearance of your mouth and smile.


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