A dental bridge is a false tooth that is used to fill the gap created by missing tooth or teeth. A gap between your teeth can be potentially dangerous to your dental health, as it can cause your teeth to shift resulting in a change in your bite that could be painful. Dental bridges help alleviate this problem by using the two surrounding teeth as anchors to hold a false tooth in the place where the gap is. Typically, porcelain crowns are placed over the surrounding teeth, and the false tooth, known as a pontic, is fused between them.

Types of dental bridges

There are three types of dental bridges that are commonly used today

1. Traditional fixed bridge – This is the most common type of dental bridge, in which porcelain crowns are placed over the two surrounding teeth and used as anchors to hold the fale tooth in place. The false tooth is usually made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics.

2. Cantilever bridge – A cantilever bridge is used when teeth are present on only one side of the gap. These are used typically in areas of your mouth that doesn’t experience an intense chewing load, such as your front teeth.

3. Resin-bonded bridge – In a resin-bonded bridge, metal bands are bonded to the surrounding teeth with resin and used to hold a plastic false tooth in place. This type of bridge is typically used in areas of the mouth that undergo less stress, such as the front teeth.

How it’s done

A minimum of two visits are required for placing a dental bridge. At the first visit, three important steps are completed. Firstly, the surrounding teeth are prepared to be fitted with a crown. This may including filing down the tooth so that the crown can fit over it. Secondly, an impression is taken of your teeth which will be sent to a laboratory to prepare the bridge and crown. Finally, the dentist fits your teeth with a temporary bridge to protect them while the bridge is prepared at the laboratory.

At the second visit, the temporary bridge is removed and the new bridge received from the laboratory is fitted and adjusted. Multiple visits may be necessary to check and adjust the fit.

Who should get a bridge?

If you are missing any teeth and are committed to maintaining good oral hygiene practices, you may be a good candidate for a bridge. A bridge is the most natural choice to fill the space in your mouth left by missing teeth. If left unfilled, this space can cause the surrounding teeth to drift out of position and can cause teeth and gums to become more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease that can cause further tooth loss. Fixed bridges not only correct an altered bite, improve your chewing ability and speech, but they also safeguard your appearance by preventing the collapse of your facial features that can cause premature wrinkles and age lines.

How do I care for a bridge?

With a bridge, it is more important than ever to brush, floss and see your dentist regularly. If you do not control the buildup of food debris and plaque-the sticky film of bacteria formed from food acids-your teeth and gums can become infected, requiring further treatment and resulting in possible loss of the bridge. Your dentist may also recommend using floss threaders that help remove bacteria from hard to reach spaces between the bridge and adjacent teeth and gums. If you maintain optimal oral hygiene care, you can expect your fixed bridge to last as many as 8-10 years, or even longer.

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