Dental bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth in your mouth. Bridges are a fixed (permanent) prosthesis, and are cemented onto the supporting teeth, called abutments, or in some cases, fixed on dental implants. Replacing missing teeth restores your ability to chew and speak properly, as well as returns the appearance of your smile. Additionally, they prevent the teeth surrounding the empty space from shifting and causing misalignment within your bite and problems with your jaw joint. Preventing your teeth from shifting also makes them easier to clean, and less susceptible to gum disease, decay, and additional tooth loss.
Dental bridges are usually made from a metal base. Porcelain is then bonded to that base to create a natural-looking restoration. Modern dentistry allows the use of all porcelain bridges, as well as bridges made from zirconia, a durable, synthesized material that can be matched to the natural color of your teeth.
Your bridge will consist of two dental crowns, one on either side of the gap, joined together by a false tooth, or pontic. The bridge will be created in a dental lab, and cemented into place using a special dental adhesive. Once in place, your bridge can only be removed by a dentist.
Dental bridges are usually recommended when a patient has strong teeth with good bone support. Alternatives to fixed dental bridges include partial dentures and dental implants.
You will need to have at least two appointments when you receive a dental bridge. During the first appointment, your tooth will be prepared, an impression will be taken, and you will receive a temporary bridge. This will involve:
- A local anesthetic around the working area prior to preparing the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth.
- The adjacent teeth will need to be reduced in size and shaped to support the dental bridge.
- The dentist will take an impression and a color match from the surrounding teeth. This will be sent to a dental lab where a dental technician will fabricate the bridge.
- A temporary bridge will be placed.
During the second appointment, your dentist will cement your dental bridge into place. You may be given a local anesthetic to numb the area, and the dentist will remove the temporary bridge. Once your permanent bridge is in place, and you are happy with the fit and color, it will be cemented into place.
The longevity of your dental bridge depends on the quality of the material in the bridge, the function of the bite, your oral hygiene, diet, and the health of the supporting teeth and gums. Your dentist will be able to instruct you on proper brushing and flossing techniques.