There are many different treatments available for badly damaged or decayed teeth, but unfortunately, sometimes a tooth is beyond repair and can leave an unsightly gap in your smile and a loss of chewing function. Gaps between your teeth can seriously knock your confidence, and can even have a negative impact on the functionality of your other teeth and the overall use of your mouth since, over time, your remaining teeth can shift around, causing misalignment as well as a range of other associated dental problems.
Dental bridges fill the gap where the missing tooth would have been by using a false tooth, which looks and feels just like the real thing.
The false tooth also holds the remaining teeth either side in place so that they don’t shift into that space.
Dental bridges are comprised of two or more crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap which act as anchors for the false tooth/teeth that will fill the gap.
Once your dental bridge is in place, it should be virtually imperceptible.
The anchoring teeth are often referred to as abutment teeth and the false teeth are often called pontics. They are all splinted together and look like a three or more teeth that are stuck together.
The bridge can be made from a number of different materials including metal alloys, gold or porcelain, depending on what cosmetic finish you want to achieve. If you choose porcelain, they can be color-matched to your existing teeth so that they look completely natural.
There are a number of benefits of having a dental bridge. They can:
Prevent your remaining teeth from shifting position.
Help you bite and/or chew properly.
Correct your bite.
Properly align your jaw.
Maintain the shape of your face.
Give you a great smile.
There are three main varieties of dental bridges, and the type your dentist recommends will vary depending on where in your mouth the missing teeth are located.
A traditional bridge is the most commonly recommended treatment for missing teeth. It involves creating crowns to go on the teeth on either side of the gap which acts as anchors for the pontic that will sit in-between them. Traditional bridges are usually made from porcelain that has been fused to ceramic or metal.
Also sometimes referred to as a Maryland bonded bridge, this type of bridge can be created from a variety of materials including porcelain fused to metal, complete porcelain or sometimes plastic teeth and gums that are supported by a porcelain or metal framework. The wings found on each side of the bridge, usually made from metal or porcelain, are securely bonded to your natural teeth.
A dental bridge will require at least two visits to your dentist. During the first visit, we will carry out a thorough examination of your teeth.
After giving you a local anesthetic, we will prepare the abutment teeth by sculpting the tooth in order to make your tooth small enough for the crown to sit over it, hiding it completely. Then we will take either traditional or digital impressions of your teeth which will be used to make models that the dental lab will use to make your custom bridge so that it is a perfect fit. Finally, the abutment teeth and gap will be covered with a temporary bridge to protect them while the final bridge is being created.
When your bridge is ready you will come back to the office and we will remove your temporary bridge and fit your final bridge. This may require multiple visits in order to ensure that the esthetics and fit are absolutely perfect. Before your bridge is cemented in place permanently, your dentist may suggest a ‘trial run’. This is it is cemented with a temporary adhesive to check that it is completely comfortable before securing them in place with permanent cement.
With proper care and attention, your dental bridge could last twenty years or longer. You should continue with a thorough oral hygiene routine including brushing, flossing, and mouthwash. The part of the system that is the most likely to fail is the teeth under the bridge, so doubling up on normal anti-cavity activities such as healthy diet, at home and professional fluoride application, and excellent daily oral hygiene, are highly recommended.
The cost of dental bridges varies depending on the number of pontics and false teeth that are required. The more you need, the greater the cost will be. A thorough visual and radiographic exam would need to be done to determine how much of an investment your bridge would be and how much of it would be covered by your dental insurance.