A dental bridge is a method of prosthetic replacement for a missing tooth. The false tooth, called a pontic, is fused between two other porcelain crowns that act as anchors once they are affixed to adjoining teeth.

This structure is purposeful in providing strength for the pontic while maintaining the existing dental structure. Otherwise, the open gap left by the missing tooth tends to encourage the surrounding teeth to shift and try to fill that open space. This can undermine the integrity of the jaw structure, leading to gum disease and worse, temporomandibular disorders (TMD).

Advantages to choosing a dental bridge

A dental bridge is a permanent replacement for a missing tooth; unlike a denture, it cannot be removed, but with proper dental hygiene, they have been known to last for as many as 15 years. They serve as an aesthetic improvement to keep the dental patient smiling without the intense self-consciousness as well as having a functional purpose: preserving the underlying bone and making it possible to continue eating your favorite foods.

How a dental bridge works

Just as any bridge is used to span a gap, a dental bridge uses the pontic to span the toothless gap and the adjoining teeth serve as the bridge abutments. The typical bridge relies on two abutment pieces, one on either side of the opening. In some cases, four teeth may become involved in the structural support when there is a gap created by two missing teeth.

A cantilever bridge is another type of 3-unit fixed bridge that attaches only on one side, which means far less tooth removal. However, the drawback of this type of bridge is that it can only be used for limited areas where there is less stress when chewing, such as the front teeth. The Maryland Bridge is a resin-retained type of bridge commonly used to replace missing front teeth. It is supported with hidden metal bands that are bonded to the crowns.

Preparing adjoining teeth

Abutment teeth will have considerable tooth removal in order to accept the crowns. Any dental work affecting the area will be completed first. Expect at least two visits before the process is completed. Once the teeth have been prepared, dental castings are made so the bridge piece may be fabricated in the laboratory. Tooth color is matched so there is a proper blending when fitted. In the meantime, a temporary bridge is fitted until the permanent piece is completed.

To gain the best understanding of how dental bridges can be used to help you, or to better understand the difference between dental bridges vs. implants contact Washington Dental for a free consultation today.