Dental bridges are a fixed dental prosthesis, custom made to replace a missing tooth or teeth sandwiched between your neighboring teeth. They are essentially, at the minimum, three crowns fused together. The missing tooth or teeth in between the bridge is called a “pontic”. A bridge helps restore the function and bite of your teeth by distributing forces evenly during mastication (chewing) and keeping the natural shape of your face.
Bridges are very similar to crowns and made from the same materials. Bridges are made of metals and/or ceramics.
There are several issues that can arise when missing a tooth or multiple teeth.
When you have a missing tooth or teeth, your mouth will start to see changes and you may not be able chew or eat the same way as before. These changes will cause shifting and can cause more damage to your neighboring healthy teeth. Excessive forces distributed unevenly can cause over usage and result in loss of teeth over time.
Both a dental bridge and dental implant can serve to replace a missing tooth or teeth. They will improve your smile and function and are both great options for teeth replacement.
Some things to consider with a dental bridge is that in order for the crowns of the bridge to go over the teeth, some tooth structure must be removed. In cases where your neighboring teeth have large fillings, a bridge may be beneficial since those teeth will be covered by a crown and protected.
Dental implants are also a popular option. The advantage of a dental implant is that it does not rely on the neighboring teeth for anchoring. Implants that have fully integrated can potentially last you a lifetime. However, unlike bridges, dental implants do require surgery and healthy bone structure. Please consult with your dental advocate to see which is best for you.
The process of a bridge is similar to a crown. Local anesthetic is administered so you will not feel any pain during the procedure. Your dentist should make sure you are completely comfortable in the chair. In general, the procedure takes about an hour or so but can take longer depending on if you have a cavity or a large filling on your neighboring teeth.
The bridge is a two-appointment process. (Preparation and Final Cementation)
Once the bridge is back from the lab, the dentist will make sure your crown properly fits and is adjusted to your original bite. The fit can be double checked by taking a radiographic x-ray before the bridge is permanently cemented. Once it is permanently cemented you will be able to go back to chewing properly and flossing regularly in that area.