Dental Bridges 'bridge' the gap left by missing teeth to restore the structure and appearance of your smile.
What is a bridge?
A bridge is a dental appliance that replaces one or more natural missing teeth, thereby "bridging" the space between two teeth.
Fixed bridges are cemented into place on the "abutment" teeth - the neighbouring teeth on either side of the space, or "span." Unlike removable partial dentures, fixed bridges cannot be taken out of the mouth by the patient.
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. If left unfilled, the empty space left by missing teeth can cause the surrounding teeth to move out of position and can cause increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease, which can cause further tooth loss.
Fixed bridges enhance the appearance of your smile and improve your ability to chew and speak. They can also safeguard you appearance by preventing the collapse of your facial features that can cause premature wrinkles and age lines.
What type of bridges are there?
Besides traditional bridges, another popular design is the resin bonded or "Maryland" bridge, primarily used for the front teeth. This is usually the most economical choice when the abutment teeth are healthy and don't contain large fillings.
The pontic is fused to metal that can be bonded to the abutment teeth with a resin cement and hidden from view, reducing the amount of preparation on the adjacent teeth.
A cantilever bridge may be used if there are teeth on only one side of the span. This involves anchoring the pontic to one side over one or more natural, adjacent teeth.
If there are no adjacent teeth to act as anchors, we may recommend an implant - a metal post that is surgically imbedded into the bone, and is capped with a crown as an abutment. In some cases where the span is large, we may recommend an implant supported prosthesis.
What are the dental bridge procedures involved?
For a traditional fixed bridge, the first appointment consists of the dentist reducing the adjacent abutment teeth that will act as anchors.
Impressions are made, from which a metal framework, including the pontic, is created and covered in porcelain.
We can even make bridges where the framework is made of zirconia (a white material) and then covered in porcelain (for the best aesthetic results).
By the second appointment, the final bridge is fitted over the teeth. The total treatment time is usually two weeks, but depends on the type of bridge.
We always recommend that our patients who are having major restorative work done (implants, crowns, veneers, bridges) do a course of bleaching prior to having the work done.
If the restorative work is matched to the yellow or grey teeth, there is no way to change the colour after the work is completed.
How do I care for a bridge?
With a bridge, it is more important than ever to brush, floss and see your dentist regularly.
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.
You may need dental bridge repair work over time. However if you maintain optimal oral hygiene care, you can expect your fixed bridge to last 10 to 15 years, and sometimes even longer.