Dental bridges are a form of false teeth that are designed to fill the spaces left by missing teeth. They can be invaluably beneficial both for health and cosmetic reasons.
The dentist will create a dental bridge of the correct dimensions. The false tooth of a dental bridge is called a pontic. In the majority of cases it is fitted into a specified gap by attaching to the neighbouring teeth on either side using crowns. The porcelain crowns act as anchors for the pontic, creating a fixed, immovable dental bridge between the abutment teeth on both sides. Pieces of these adjacent teeth are removed to accommodate the crowns.
Types of bridge
Traditional fixed bridges
The traditional fixed bridge is the widespread definition of a dental bridge, fitted using the mechanisms described above and forming an irremovable bridge. These can cover gaps left by one or more missing teeth where abutment teeth can anchor the pontic at either end.
Resin bonded bridges
Resin bonded bridges are less expensive and usually recommended for the front teeth. The pontic is bonded to metal bands and these bands are linked to the abutment teeth using a hidden resin. The abutment teeth should be healthy for the resin bridge to be fully effective, but this type of bridge requires less preparation of the teeth.
Cantilever bridges are available for parts of the mouth that are not under much strain, particularly the area where the front teeth grow. These bridges are used in cases where an abutment tooth is only present on one side of the space.
Why would I need a bridge?
Missing teeth can be unsightly and often lower the confidence of sufferers. But there are reasons unrelated to aesthetics that missing teeth need to be replaced. The remaining teeth can begin to place inordinate pressure on the teeth directly adjacent to the gap. These teeth are regularly forced to lean unnaturally into the space, which can change the person’s bite. There is also a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease for people with gaps because specks of food build up in the space and are more difficult to remove or clean away. Some people with gaps suffer from speech impediments.
The bridges provide a naturalistic, pleasing and discreet appearance. The fitting process is usually quick and easy for the patient. With appropriate oral hygiene, a dental bridge can last successfully for approximately ten years. The upshot of this is that falling into slack oral hygiene routines can harm the bridges and also provoke tooth or gum infection, though this is also a risk for people without bridges. The treated teeth are often sensitive to fluctuating temperature for a number of weeks after the fitting, but this should soon diminish.