The arch of the teeth in the upper and lower jaw is what provides the strength and leverage needed to bite, chew, and speak clearly. When the arch is compromised by the loss of a tooth, all of the surrounding teeth are in danger and eventually the entire arch can collapse as tooth after tooth is lost. A dental bridge can provide support and restore a positive aesthetic, returning your smile to normal and giving you back full function.
Dental bridges do exactly what it sounds like they do – they bridge the gap between remaining teeth, shoring them up and preventing them from drifting into the gap. The bridge generally holds a pontic – a restoration that looks like a tooth but sits on top of the gum instead of being rooted into it. Bridges have a variety of benefits, including:
There are two types of dental bridges – removable and fixed. A removable bridge is affixed to the abutment teeth with metal clasps, and can be taken out by the wearer. Fixed bridges are cemented into place by the dentist, usually by using crowns that fit over the abutment teeth, but occasionally by bonding the pontic directly to the abutment teeth. Fixed bridges are more stable and last longer than removable bridges do. Bridges are also called “partial dentures”, as opposed to “full dentures” which replace a full arch of teeth.
The attachment procedure usually takes two or three appointments to complete. At the first appointment, the doctors will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by removing a tiny 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 our in-house lab where the bridge will be constructed. 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.
At the second appointment, the bridge is installed. It may be connected to the abutment teeth with metal clasps, making it removable, or attached to crowns placed on the abutment teeth for support and cemented in place for a fixed bridge. The customized pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth, create a natural chewing surface and appearance.
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, and decay or loss of these teeth will cause the arch to destabilize once again.