A dental bridge is a false tooth that replaces a missing tooth (or multiple teeth). Losing or breaking a tooth leaves a gap, which can pose a danger to your dental health. It can also allow your other teeth to shift or change your bite. This drifting can lead to problems with the jaw, such as TMJ, uneven tooth wear, and it can also cause stress on the remaining natural teeth. Bridges can also restore a patient's ability to chew and speak following tooth loss. Dental bridges help solve this issue because the two surrounding teeth act as anchors and hold the new false tooth in the place, which means there is no longer a gap is. Usually, porcelain crowns are placed over the nearby teeth (hooking over them, referred to as an abutment) as well as the new false tooth (another name for this is a pontic), and they are fused together. A bridge can also serve an aesthetic purpose, giving you a more even and pleasing smile.
3 Types of Dental Bridges
1. Traditional fixed bridge – Also known as a standard bridge or double-abutted bridge, this is the most common type of dental bridge. The two abutments (porcelain crowns) are placed over the two surrounding teeth. They are the anchors that hold the fake tooth (pontic) in place. The false tooth is typically made out of either porcelain which is fused to metal, or ceramic.
2. Cantilever bridge – A cantilever bridge is used when abutment teeth are available on only one side of the missing tooth. These are the least common type of bridge, because of the amount of force used for biting at the back of the mouth, where this would most typically occur. Quite often, a dentist will choose an implant over a bridge here because it is stronger. Therefore, when used, a cantilever bridge would be best suited near the front of the mouth.
3. Resin-bonded bridge - A resin-bonded bridge is also more commonly known as a Maryland bridge. This type includes one pontic with wings made of resin. The wings are bonded to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth space. This type of bridge is often used on front teeth, as they do not withstand a lot of force from chewing. This type also allows the dentist to be more conservative in the amount of tooth structure that is carved away to prepare for the bridge.
What to Expect
At least two visits are required for the placement of a dental bridge. At the first visit, there are three key steps. First, the surrounding teeth are prepared by filing down the teeth so the crown can fit over it. Next, the dentist will take an impression of your teeth. This is sent to a laboratory to create both the bridge and the crown. Last, the dentist will create and fit a temporary bridge to protect your teeth while you are waiting for the next visit and for the laboratory to create the new bridge.
At the second visit, the dentist will remove your temporary bridge. The new bridge from the laboratory is fitted and adjusted as need to fit perfectly in your mouth. Follow up visits may be necessary for additional adjustments.