What is a Dental Bridge?
A Dental Bridge is a fixed dental restoration designed to permanently bridge the gap caused by missing teeth. Fixed dental restorations are designed to be irremovable, unlike other dental prosthetics such as dentures, and are designed to last a lifetime of regular use. A bridge is made up of crowns which are fixed to the teeth on either side of the gap. These crowns–called abutments– act as anchors which hold the bridge in place and are attached to the false tooth in the middle. This false tooth is called a Pontic and is the part of the bridge that actually replaces the form and function of a missing regular tooth. Bridges are typically held in place by original, healthy teeth to provide the best support possible, but implants can also provide a viable abutment point.
The Process of Getting a Bridge
A bridge procedure is a fairly simple process that typically involves just two appointments. During the first appointment, the teeth that will be used to anchor the bridge are carefully recontoured by removing a small portion of enamel to make room for the crowns. Impressions of the teeth are then taken which are used to make an exact mold for the crowns and pontic. The dentist will place a temporary bridge while the permanent crowns and pontic are being created in a dental lab. During the second appointment, the temporary bridge will be removed and replaced with the permanent. Adjustments to the permanent bridge often have to be made in order to ensure a proper and comfortable bite.
Dental Bridge Maintenance
A common question we often receive from patients is “how long do dental bridges last?” The answer depends almost entirely upon the patient and how diligent they are in maintaining their oral health. As previously explained, a dental bridge is a fixed prosthesis (cannot be removed) which is anchored to teeth or implants on either side of the missing tooth. Because the bridge relies so much upon the structural integrity of these two anchoring teeth (called abutments), it becomes even more vitally important that the patient has excellent oral hygiene. Without proper brushing and flossing, gum recession can eventually lead to bone loss which greatly reduces the strength of the abutments. It is also important to take great care in the foods you eat and avoid chewing hard substances such as ice. However, if patients floss and brush twice daily and remember to visit their dental hygienist periodically, there’s no reason their bridges and other dental prosthetics shouldn’t last a lifetime.
Why Get a Dental Bridge?
The most common reasons patients require a dental bridge:
- Smile restoration
- Improved ability to speak
- Improved ability to chew/eat
- To prevent bite misalignment