bridges - some technical information
A bridge is a dental appliance, made up of multiple crowns. It generally helps replace one or more natural missing teeth, thereby “bridging” the space between two teeth. Bridges are cemented into place on the
“abutment” teeth i.e. the surrounding teeth on either side of the space or span, from which the bridge takes
support. Teeth called “pontics” which connects the crowns on abutment teeth together replace the missing teeth. Unlike removable partial dentures, bridges cannot be taken out of the mouth by the patient.
Who should get a bridge?
A person with missing teeth and committed to maintaining good oral hygiene practices, is a good candidate for a bridge. A bridge is the most natural choice to fill the space in the mouth left by missing teeth. If left unfilled, this space can cause the surrounding teeth to tilt into the space and can cause teeth and gums to become more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease that can cause further tooth loss. Bridges not only correct an altered bite, improve the chewing ability and speech, but they also maintain or restore the appearance by preventing the collapse of facial features that can cause premature wrinkles and age lines.
What types of bridges are there?
Besides traditional bridges, another popular design 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. The pontic is fused to metal bands that can be bonded to the abutment teeth with a resin cement and hidden from view, reducing the amount of preparation on the adjacent teeth. A cantilever bridge may be used if there are teeth on only one side of the span. This involves anchoring the
pontic to one side over one or more natural, adjacent teeth. If there are no adjacent teeth to act as anchors,an implant is recommended–a metal post that is surgically embedded into the bone and capped with a crown as an abutment. In some cases where the span is large, a removable partial denture is recommended or even an implant-supported prosthesis.
What is the procedure of its fabrication?
For a traditional fixed bridge, the first appointment consists of the dentist reducing the adjacent abutment teeth that will act as anchors. Impressions are made, from which a metal framework, including the pontic, is created. By the second appointment, the final bridge is fitted over the teeth. The total treatment time is usually around one week, depending on the type of bridge. However, because it is often difficult to match the natural shade of your teeth, the treatment time may be longer.
How do I care for a bridge?
With a bridge, it is more important than ever to brush, floss and see the dentist regularly. If buildup of food debris and plaque is not controlled, the teeth and gums can become infected, requiring further treatment and resulting in possible loss of the bridge. We recommend using floss threaders that help remove bacteria from hard to reach spaces between the bridge and adjacent teeth and gums. Crowns on the bridge cover most of the exposed portion of your tooth and decay does not affect a bridge since it is made of metal and /or porcelain. However, where the natural tooth meets the crown of the bridge can become decayed. If optimal oral hygiene care is maintained,a bridge can last for many years.