Where damage has occurred, resulting in lost teeth, bridges can be used as a long-term solution to bridge the space between the surrounding teeth.
What is it and when is it appropriate?
Once a tooth is removed the surrounding teeth usually will have a tendency to tilt into the space. Most of the time, the opposing tooth will grow down (or up) into the space as well. When this happens your bite becomes misaligned and can cause painful and troublesome symptoms in the joint in front of your ear, commonly referred to as TMJ symptoms.
A bridge (fixed partial denture) is a device, which fills the gap where teeth are absent. Fixed bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dental professional. Removable bridges, as the name implies, can be taken out and cleaned. Fixed bridges offer more stability and feel more natural than a removable bridge.
What are the benefits?
Dental health is the most important reason for a bridge. Teeth were designed to complement each other. Unusual stresses are placed on the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing, causing a number of potentially harmful disorders including gum disease.
What is the procedure?
The procedure usually takes two appointments to complete. At the first appointment the doctor will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by shaping them.
Since the bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure the correct bite and to match the opposing tooth, impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to a lab where the bridge will be constructed.
Fixed bridges are typically cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth. The bridge is then cemented onto the natural teeth, providing support for the bridge.
Common Concerns and Questions
What materials are used?
Bridges can be constructed from gold alloys, non-precious alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Porcelain is often bonded to a metal substructure. The development of wonderful new materials has allowed us to provide “metal free” dentistry to those who desire it.
How do I take care of my bridge?
A routine regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. This is of critical importance as the bridge relies on the neighboring teeth for support.