A dental bridge is a good replacement for missing teeth. If you have lost any teeth, either as a result of an accident or disease then you can be left with a series of unsightly gaps. If these are not filled with replacement teeth then there is a risk of bone loss or ‘bone resorption’ which also impacts upon your facial appearance.
What a bridge does is to act as an anchor for replacement teeth: it consists of a false tooth called a ‘pontic’ which sits in between a couple of dental crowns. This bridge works by the insertion of the pontic into the gap (to replace the missing tooth), flanked either side by two crowns. These crowns will fit over your natural teeth on either side of this gap.
The pontic can be made from porcelain, gold, alloy or any combination of these materials.
A bridge can prevent bone loss, gum disease or decay caused by the presence of food debris in the gap and relieve pressure on the teeth either side of the gap.
It will also improve your smile and your appearance.
There are 3 types of dental bridge:
Maryland Bridge: also known as a resin bonded bridge. It was first developed at the University of Maryland – hence the name, and is often used to fill a gap between the front teeth. It consists of a pontic, made from porcelain which is fused to a metal framework. This framework takes the form of two ‘wings’ which appear each side of the pontic.
These wings can be attached to the back of your natural teeth by means of a resin. This enables the bonding of the bridge to the rear of your teeth.
Traditional fixed bridge: this is the most popular type of bridge. It involves the fixing of a pontic between two porcelain crowns which are fastened to your natural teeth or dental implants. The pontic can be made of ceramic or porcelain fused to metal and cannot be removed by the patient.
Cantilever bridge: these tend to be used when there are natural teeth on just the one side of a gap. As a result of this it is suitable where there are natural teeth on one side of a gap.
A bridge can be made from porcelain fused to metal, porcelain only or solid metal such as gold.
A dental bridge is fitted in the following manner:
Your dentist will give you a local anaesthetic to help numb the area.
He or she will help prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by trimming them. This will enable them to receive the crowns.
This is followed by the taking of an impression of your teeth. The dentist will ask you to bite down into special dental ‘putty’ (wax like consistency) which is then used to make a mould. This mould is used by a dental laboratory to make your bridge and crowns.
You will be fitted with a temporary bridge whilst you are waiting for the permanent version. Your dentist will also check the colour of your natural teeth against a special ‘shade chart’. This will enable him or her to match your bridge to your own teeth.
Once your permanent bridge is ready you will return to your dentist for a final fitting. He or she will check the look, fitting and your ‘bite’ (the way you open and close your jaws).
The dentist will then cement the bridge in place. This is done as a temporary measure for the first few weeks.
You may find that you need several visits to ensure that it’s fitted correctly and comfortably. If the dentist is happy with it then he/she will cement in permanently in place.
If you stick to a healthy oral regime, such as brushing twice a day, flossing and regular check ups then your bridge can last for up to 15 years.
A dental bridge can give you a natural looking appearance as well as resolving any ‘bite’ problems that you may have. Just be aware that it can cause your teeth to feel a bit sensitive for the first few weeks afterwards.