Dental bridges are an extremely common treatment, but what are dental bridges? A dental bridge extends across the gap created by one or more missing teeth and if properly done and should create a natural looking restoration. The bridge is anchored to the teeth either side of the gap, and these are called the abutment teeth. The space in between the abutment teeth is filled by one or more false teeth, and each false tooth is called a pontic. The pontic is firmly attached to the restorations for the abutment teeth which are crowned. Dental bridges can be made out of various different materials including metal alloys that may be covered in porcelain, gold, or they can be entirely made out of ceramic materials. Although the abutment to dental bridges can be natural teeth, they can also be supported by implants. Certain kinds of bridges only need one abutment tooth for support.
Perhaps a better question than what are dental bridges, should be what can dental bridges do for you?
The answer is quite a lot, as they can help your smile in the following ways:
- Makes it easier to chew a larger variety of foods and to speak properly
- Support to your cheeks and lips helping to maintain the correct shape of your face
- Protect your remaining teeth by distributing the biting forces more evenly
- Prevent your remaining teeth from drifting into the gaps left by missing teeth
- They can help put a smile back on your face
If you need a dental bridge it’s likely to be one of three kinds. These are:
- Ordinary bridges that require an abutment tooth either side of the missing tooth, with one or more pontics attached in between. These are the most popular kinds of bridges and are extremely stable.
- Cantilever bridge that only requires one abutment tooth adjacent to the gap which is then attached to the pontic.
- Maryland bridge which is normally a metal framework consisting of one or two wings which fit across the back of the tooth. These wings are bonded onto the abutment teeth with one or more pontics in between. The metal framework can be covered with porcelain or a composite material. Maryland bridges can also be made out of all ceramic materials. The advantage of a Maryland bridge is that it doesn’t really require the abutment teeth to be modified in any way, but these types of bridges do have a tendency to pop off occasionally and will need to be re-bonded to the tooth.
So now we’ve answered the question what are dental bridges we can move on to the procedure involved in having a dental bridge fitted. Your first dental visit will be to prepare the abutment teeth. It’s necessary to remove a certain amount of tooth material in order to make room for the crown to be constructed. Obviously your dentist will remove not any more tooth material and necessary, but unless you’re having a Maryland bridge the teeth must be prepared as otherwise these abutment crowns will be far too bulky. The next step is to take an impression of your teeth which is sent to the dental laboratory. You’ll be fitted with a temporary bridge while your permanent bridge is being constructed. This isn’t as strong as the finished restoration and is likely to be purely for cosmetic purposes so care needs to be taken not to break it during this time. The impressions are cast up and used by the dental laboratory to construct your bridge.
If you are having quite a large dental bridge fitted, then the laboratory may return the framework for fitting before it is finished. This helps ensure the final fit is absolutely perfect. Otherwise the finished bridge will be returned by the dental laboratory for fitting. Provided it is perfect, it will be permanently cemented into place.
You’ll need to take care of your new bridge and must make sure to brush and floss it thoroughly, especially underneath the pontic area. You’ll be given instructions on how to do this and the correct tools to use, as it’s possible to buy special floss threaders and small interdental brushes designed to make this task easier. With a little care, an average dental bridge can last up to 10 years. If you have any further questions as to what are dental bridges, then do ask Dr Penchas or another member of his dental team.