A dental bridge is a false tooth, also known as a pontic. If you have space from a missing tooth, a bridge will be custom made to fill the space with a false tooth. In a fixed bridge, the false tooth is fused between two porcelain crowns to fill in the area left by a missing tooth. The two crowns holding it in place are attached to the teeth on each side of the false tooth. This procedure is used to replace one or more missing teeth. Fixed bridges cannot be removed from your mouth as you might do with partial dentures. Single tooth implants may be used at other times to eliminate the need for supporting crowns.
In areas of your mouth that are under less stress, such as your front teeth, a cantilever bridge may be used. Cantilever bridges are used when there are teeth on only one side of the open space. Bridges can reduce your risk of gum disease, help correct some bite issues, and even improve your speech. Bridges require your commitment to serious oral hygiene.
If you have missing teeth and practice good oral hygiene, you should discuss this procedure with your dentist. If spaces are left unfilled, they may cause the surrounding teeth to drift out of position. Additionally, spaces from missing teeth can cause your other teeth and gums to become far more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.
Each tooth on either side of the space is prepared for the false tooth. You will be given a mild anesthetic to numb the area and the cosmetic dentist will remove a small piece of each abutment (teeth on either side of the space) to accommodate the thickness of the crown. When these teeth already have fillings, part of the filling may be left in place to help as a foundation for the crown. The dentist will then make an impression, which will serve as the model from which the bridge, false tooth and crowns will be made by a dental laboratory. A temporary bridge will be fitted to you to wear while your bridge is being made. This temporary bridge will serve to protect your teeth and gums until your next visit.
At your second appointment, the temporary bridge will be removed. The permanent bridge will be fitted, checked, and adjusted for any bite discrepancies. Your new bridge will then be cemented to your teeth.
Advantages of dental bridges: Bridges are natural in appearance and usually require only two visits to your dentist. If you maintain good oral hygiene, you fixed bridge should last for 10 years or more.
Disadvantages of dental bridges: It is common for your teeth to be mildly sensitive to extreme temperatures for a few weeks after the procedure. If proper oral hygiene is not followed, the infection can result from the build-up of bacteria formed from food acids on your teeth and gums.
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