All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing, and maintaining proper alignment of other teeth. Tooth loss doesn’t necessarily have to occur as you age. But if you do lose teeth, they must be replaced to maintain proper function of your mouth. Fortunately, there are options for correcting tooth loss. By the nature of the design of a bridge, it involves cutting down the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. We usually have a hard time philosophically cutting down two teeth when they have not had a restoration placed in them before.
A bridge — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth (crowns) to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges are either permanently attached (fixed bridges) or they can be removable. Usually they are cemented in place and do not come out by the patient.
Fixed bridges are applied by either placing crowns on the abutment teeth or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the abutment teeth. Removable bridges (partials) are attached to the teeth with metal clasps or by precision attachments.
If you’re missing one or more teeth, you may be aware of their importance to your appearance and dental health. Your teeth work together for many daily functions from eating to speaking. With missing teeth, it’s difficult to do these things. Missing teeth can and should be replaced. Fixed bridges are no longer the first choice to restore a missing space. Implants are now the main method. Fixed bridges are a good second choice as long as you understand that they put a higher force on the two abutments and can and many times cause damage to these teeth.
What Is A Bridge/Fixed Partial Denture?
A bridge is a device that fills the gap when teeth are absent. Fixed bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dental professional. Removable bridges (partials), as the name implies, can be taken out and cleaned. Fixed bridges offer more stability than their removable counterparts.
Why Do I Need A Bridge?
Oral functionality and appearance are important reasons for wearing a bridge. A bridge helps support your lips and cheeks. The loss of a back tooth may cause your mouth to sink and your face to look older.
Dental health is the most important reason for a bridge. Teeth were designed to complement each other. Unusual stresses are placed on the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing, causing a number of potentially harmful disorders.
Increased risk of gum disease has proven to be one of the worst side effects of missing teeth and can be minimized with a bridge.
Missing teeth can cause speech disorders as they are used to make many of the sounds we use to speak clearly.
How Is A Bridge Attached?
Fixed bridges are typically cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth. Crowns, which are cemented onto the natural teeth, provide support for the bridge. The bridge procedure usually takes two or three appointments to complete.
At the first appointment, we will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin. Since the bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure correct bite and to match the opposing tooth, impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to the lab where the bridge will be constructed.
The second visit involves trying in the gold substructure (porcelain is baked onto this) and checking to make sure the fit is perfect. This is a step that most offices do not do but it is crucial to having a great fitting bridge. Very rarely has a patient needed to have anesthesia at this appointment and usually lasts about 15 to 30 minutes.
The third appointment is used to adjust the final bridge and cement in the mouth the final bridge. Again, rarely does one need anesthesia and the visit lasts no more than an hour.
Fixed bridges are typically cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth. Crowns, which are cemented onto the natural teeth, provide support for the bridge.
What Materials Are Used?
Bridges can be constructed from gold alloys, non-precious alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Porcelain is often bonded to either a precious or non-precious metal. Our office only uses high noble gold to keep the potential of allergic reactions to a minimum. We never use non precious alloys to construct crowns or bridges.
How Do I Take Care Of My Bridge?
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. This is of critical importance since the bridge relies on the neighboring teeth for support.
What is the Long Term Predictability?
On average they last for 10 years or so. Insurance companies say they should last for a minimum of 5 years. Rarely does the bridge break and usually the problem is porcelain breaking off of the bridge or recurrent decay around the abutments. We cannot be responsible for recurrent decay… that is your job to keep your mouth clean!