Dental bridges are natural-looking dental appliances that replace a single missing tooth or a section of missing teeth allowing a person to restore his or her ability to chew and speak properly, smile confidently, improve bite, and maintain facial structure, gum health and bone density in the jaw. Because they are custom-made, bridges are barely noticeable and can restore the natural contour of teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth.
Types of Dental Bridges
The three most common types of dental bridges are resin-bonded bridges, cantilever bridges, and traditional bridges.
A traditional bridge is created by placing a false tooth, or pontic, between two anchor teeth, or abutment teeth. The abutment teeth, which can be either natural teeth or implants, are fitted with crowns and used to hold the pontic tooth in place. The pontic tooth can be made from any combination of gold, alloys or porcelain, or in some cases, pure porcelain.
Cantilever bridges are useful as they can be used when anchor teeth are only available on one side of the missing tooth. The process is otherwise similar to the traditional bridge.
Resin-bonded bridges, also known as Maryland bonded bridges, are the most complex of the three. They are created directly in the mouth using plastic teeth and gums attached to a metal framework, which is then directly connected to existing teeth.
About the Process
There are typically two phases involved in the installation of dental bridges. The first phase is where the majority of the work is done. The abutment teeth will be prepared by removing some of the enamel to make room for the crowns. Next, impressions will be made and used to create the pontic tooth, bridge, and crowns for the abutment tooth or teeth. The exposed gums will be protected by a temporary bridge, to be removed in the next phase.
The second stage involves removal of the temporary bridge and installation of the permanent bridge. The dentist may temporarily cement it into place at first in order to ensure optimal fit, eventually installing it more permanently a few weeks later, after any necessary adjustments have been made. There are typically several visits involved in this phase during which the dentist will make these adjustments.
Life after Dental Bridges
Dental bridges can change the patient’s life dramatically and for the better. Speaking and chewing should become much easier, giving back confidence the patient may have lost. Caring for the bridge is as simple as caring for regular teeth; regular brushing and flossing to prevent decay of enamel and gums, as well as regular cleanings so that any potential problems can be caught early. A healthy diet is also important, as well as avoiding activities – such as chewing on ice – that could potential damage teeth.
If you have severely damaged teeth or missing teeth you could benefit from a bridge.