With a conventional dental bridge, artificial teeth called pontics attach to two or more supporting teeth called abutments, which are located on each side of the missing tooth space. With a cantilever design only one artificial tooth can be attached, either behind or in front, to two or more supporting teeth. The style of the bridge depends upon the strength and health of the abutment teeth, as well as the location of the gap in relation to the rest of the dentition.
An implant-supported bridge is similar to a regular dental bridge, but abutments are attached to implants, instead of natural teeth to support it.
How are Dental Bridges Made?
Typically it takes two dental visits to fabricate a bridge. Depending on the patient’s situation, Dr. Best first removes any decay, old fractured fillings, and weak or broken pieces of tooth. She then reduces the remaining tooth structure to accommodate the bridge. Teeth serving as abutments are reduced in size to accommodate the bridge material being used, to restore the size and shape of the original teeth, and to align and contact the teeth on the opposite arch.
An implant-supported bridge is made in the same manner as a single implants crown (see dental implants). It is a series of implant crowns connected to pontics to form a bridge.
A highly accurate impression is taken of the prepared teeth or the implant abutments. This impression is sent to a special laboratory to create a model, which aids in fabrication of the bridge. Dr. Best crafts a provisional bridge and puts it in place to cover the prepared teeth, or implant abutments, while the permanent bridge is being manufactured.
During the second visit, the new bridge is cemented onto the prepared abutment teeth, or implant abutments. It fully covers the portion of the teeth or implant abutments above the gum line.
What are Dental Bridges Made Of?
The materials used for bridges include all ceramic or porcelain, porcelain-fused to metal, gold, and base metal alloys. Please refer to the dental crown section for details.
What are the Advantages of Dental Bridges?
Dental bridges of either type offer several advantages over other forms of tooth replacements:
- They can typically be completed in two dental visits.
- They are stable, provide excellent chewing comfort, and are easy to live with.
- They feel like and are as aesthetically convincing as natural teeth.
- Unlike dentures, a fixed bridge is stable. It does not move around in the mouth when chewing food. It does not require removal for cleaning.
How Long to Bridges Last?
With proper oral health care and periodic professional cleanings, a bridge can last a lifetime. Plaque will tend to build up below the margins of the bridge, leading to decay and periodontal disease. Therefore, bridges require fastidious maintenance, or else they will fail. There are several specially designed bridge cleaning devices available. Dr. Best can help select the best bridge-cleaning tool for you.
To prevent damage to your new bridge, you should avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects.