What is a Dental Bridge?
Dental bridges are a great way to restore your dental health, function, and appearance when a tooth (or teeth) are missing. They provide a fixed (non-removable) option for tooth replacement. Dental bridges are an ideal choice if the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth space exhibit decay, fractures, or are in need of crowns. A dental bridge will literally “bridge” the gap that presents when a tooth is missing. Dental bridges are generally made of two crowns placed on existing teeth on either side of the “gap” from the missing tooth.
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Types of Dental Bridges
The Fixed Bridge is the most common type and consists of an artificial tooth (pontic) that is attached to two crowns which fit over missing teeth to support and retain the bridge in place.
The Maryland Bridge is sometimes used to replace a missing front tooth. Here, the artificial tooth (pontic) is bonded to the “tongue side” of adjacent teeth through use of a metal or ceramic retainer.
Fabrication of dental bridges, like crowns, can involve the use of porcelain and all ceramic materials, or more traditional restorative materials such as cast gold and porcelain fused to gold alloys. Usually 2 or 3 appointments are required to complete a dental bridge procedure. During the first appointment, teeth adjacent to the “missing tooth space” are prepared (decay removed, tooth properly shaped and contoured). Next, an impression (mold) will be taken followed by fabrication of temporary acrylic crowns or a temporary bridge. Sometimes a second appointment will be involved for an interim try-in of the dental bridge framework prior to completion of fabrication by a dental laboratory. At the final appointment, bite adjustments will be made and the completed bridge cemented or bonded into place providing a natural, life-like appearance of the replacement tooth (teeth).
Since dental bridges rely on adjacent teeth for support, a strict regimen of good home care (brushing, flossing) is very important. Keeping the surrounding tissues and supportive teeth clean helps ensure longevity of dental bridges and promotes health of gums. Regular professional cleanings by Dr. Clanton‘s hygienists, along with routine dental exams are essential.