Teeth are no different than the rest of the body; as you age, they’re prone to numerous health conditions that can wear away the glimmer of a healthy mouth. Those who don’t have the look they’d like – due to tooth loss or advanced decay – might consider a dental bridge
A dental bridge is a prosthetic apparatus used to span any area of the mouth where one or more teeth are missing. It’s accompanied by a crown on each end of the bridge. Also referred to as a cap, this crown connects to the teeth on both sides of the space that needs to be filled. A false tooth (or set of teeth in the event of a wider gap) then connects to both crowns and fills this spot where one’s natural teeth are missing.
Why Do I need a Bridge?
A bridge might be necessary as the result of tooth loss, whether it occurs from periodontal disease or physical trauma to the mouth resulting from a sport or similar accident. If missing teeth aren’t replaced, the remaining teeth can shift into these gaps, distorting one’s normal bite. An imbalance of teeth can also cause gum disease or temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Missing teeth can affect your ability to chew and talk and change the alignment of the teeth and shape of your face. Dental bridges prevent these problems by filling the gap in your smile with an artificial tooth attached to a permanent dental implant or the natural teeth next to it.
What are the Dental Bridge made of?
A dental bridge can be made of metal, porcelain or ceramic material, or a metal base with a porcelain or ceramic coating. A dental bridge is a permanent or fixed device. You cannot take it out of your mouth without help from your dentist.
What are the Types of dental bridges?
All types of dental bridges fill a space left by one or more missing teeth with an artificial tooth. The types of dental bridges that your dentist may use include:
- Traditional bridges consist of an artificial tooth attached to two or more crowns. A dental crown is a fixed device that covers a tooth with a tooth-shaped cap. The crowns are placed over the teeth on both sides of the gap to support the artificial tooth.
- Cantilever bridges consist of an artificial tooth attached to one or more crowns on one side of the missing tooth. A dental crown is a fixed device that covers a tooth with a tooth-shaped cap. Cantilever bridges replace a missing tooth that has teeth on only one side of it.
- Maryland bridges consist of an artificial tooth that is bonded or cemented to natural teeth on either side of it with small metal or ceramic attachments. These attachments are shaped like wings. Maryland bridges are sometimes called Maryland bonded bridges, resin bonded bridges, or Encore bridges. Maryland bridges are typically used for front teeth because they create a more natural appearance. They are not as strong as other bridges and are not suited to replace teeth that do a lot of hard biting or chewing.
- Implant-supported dental bridge as the name implies, implant-supported bridges use dental implants as opposed to crowns or frameworks. Typically, one implant is surgically placed for every missing tooth, and these implants hold the bridge in position. If one implant for each missing tooth isn’t possible, the bridge may have a pontic suspended between two implant-supported crowns. Considered the strongest and most stable system, an implant-supported bridge commonly requires two surgeries: one to embed the implants in the jawbone and a second surgery to place the bridge
What will my Dentist do?
The dental bridge procedure is a multi-step process that takes more than one visit to the dentist. Once you’re in the chair, your dentist injects a local anesthetic into the gum tissue adjacent to the tooth next to the bridge. The dentist then reshapes the teeth that will house the crowns, either by filing down sections of the tooth or filling them. These crowns need to fit securely in order to hold the bridge in place.
When the teeth have been sufficiently reshaped, your dentist will make an impression of the missing tooth and the surrounding teeth. This impression is sent to a laboratory to customize a bridge that fits your mouth exactly. Until the bridge is developed and returned to the dentist’s office, you should therefore receive a temporary crown or bridge secured by cement to fill the empty space. The permanent bridge should arrive at your dentist’s office within a few weeks, at which time you’ll attend a follow-up visit to have the permanent bridge placed. Some of the placement involves making sure the bridge doesn’t interfere with your bite alignment.
Care Tips for BRIDGES
While bridges can last a lifetime, they do sometimes come loose or fall out. The most important step you can take to ensure the longevity of your crown is to practice good oral hygiene.
- Keep your gums and teeth healthy by brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing daily
- See your dentist or hygienist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings
- To prevent damage to your new bridge, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects.