Dental Bridges restore the structure and appearance of your smile by bridging the gap left by missing teeth.
What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is an appliance that replaces one or multiple missing natural teeth, thereby "bridging" the space between two teeth on either side of the space.
We cement fixed bridges into place on the 'abutment' teeth - the neighbouring teeth on either side of the space, or "span." Fixed bridges cannot be taken out of the mouth by the patient like removable partial dentures can.
Who should get a bridge?
You may be a good candidate for a bridge if you are missing natural teeth and are committed to maintaining good oral hygiene practices. If left unfilled, empty space in your mouth left by missing teeth can cause the surrounding teeth to shift out of position over time. This can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, in turn cause further tooth loss.
Fixed bridges can also positively impact the appearance of your smile, and make chewing and speaking easier. In addition, they safeguard your appearance by preventing the collapse of your facial features that can cause premature wrinkles and age lines.
What type of bridges are there?
In addition to traditional bridges, another popular bridge option is the resin bonded or "Maryland" bridge, primarily used for the front teeth. This is usually the most economical choice when the abutment teeth are healthy and don't contain large fillings.
With resin bonded bridges, the pontic is fused to metal, which can be bonded to the abutment teeth with a resin cement and hidden from view. This reduces the amount of preparation on the adjacent teeth.
Another type of bridges, which can be used if there are teeth on only one side of the span, is the cantilever bridge.
In cases where there are no adjacent teeth to act as anchors, we may recommend a dental implant. An implant is a metal post that is surgically embedded into the bone, and is capped with a crown as an abutment. Sometimes, when the span is large, we may recommend an implant-supported prosthesis.
What are the dental bridge procedures involved?
During the first appointment for traditional fixed bridges, the dentist reduces the adjacent abutment teeth that will act as anchors. Next, impressions are made, from which a metal framework, including the pontic, will be created and covered in porcelain.
The bridge framework can also made of zirconia (a white material) and then covered in porcelain (for the best aesthetic results).
By the second appointment, the final bridge is fitted over the teeth. The total treatment time is usually two weeks, but it varies depending on the type of bridge.
For patients who are having major restorative work done (implants, crowns, veneers, bridges) we recommend a course of bleaching prior to having the work done. This is because, if the restorative work is matched to the yellow or grey teeth, there is no way to change the colour after the work is completed.
How do I care for a bridge?
Having a bidge maeans it's more important than ever to brush, floss and see your dentist regularly.
Your dentist may suggest you use floss threaders to help remove bacteria from hard to reach spaces between the bridge and adjacent teeth and gums.
Over time, you may need dental bridge repair work. However, as long as you maintain optimal daily oral hygiene habits, you can expect your fixed bridge to last 10 to 15 years, and in some cases, even longer.