When you hear the term “bridge” you tend to think of a structure that is grounded on either side of a river or other body of water. In dental context, the principle is similar. A bridge crosses the space left by a missing tooth or other dental gap and helps secure the teeth on either side. This serves a variety of purposes:
- Restoring the ability to properly chew or speak
- Restoring the appearance of a full, healthy smile
- Preventing further widening of the space
- Protecting against infection or decay
A bridge is comprised of two dental caps that are placed on the teeth on either side of the gap, with however many false teeth required filling in the space.
Dental bridges come in three main types:
- Maryland-bonded bridges – This type of bridge is composed of resin/plastic teeth, supported by a metal framework that is secured on the gums. Metal flanges on either end are then secured to your existing abutment teeth.
- Cantilever bridges – These bridges are used in situations where only one abutment tooth is available for the bridge to be secured to.
- Traditional bridges – The most common type of bridge available, this involves two abutment teeth and one or more pontic teeth. They are often formed of porcelain-fused-metal for maximum strength while also supplying a natural tooth appearance.
Getting a bridge put in place is actually quite a simple procedure. and can be completed in two visits. On the first visit, the abutment teeth (those on either side of the gap) are prepared and impressions are molded. On the second visit, the new bridge is inspected and installed. Further checkups and maintenance may be required for specific patients.
The materials composing your bridge are based on several factors, such as the location where the bridge will be installed, your overall dental condition and budget. Bridges can be formed from a combination of materials such as gold, porcelain, steel, zirconia, and alumina.