If you are considering tooth replacement options, you may have come across the widely used dental bridge. A dental bridge is made up of two or more crowns for the teeth on either side of a gap created by a missing tooth. The two crowns on the side (known as abutment teeth) act as the support for the faux tooth or teeth that fill the gap in the middle.
The false tooth in the middle is known as a pontic. Often, they are made from porcelain to mimic the color of natural teeth, but can also be made from gold or metal alloys coated in porcelain. Bridges restore the smile, anchored by either your natural teeth or dental implants.
Benefits of dental bridges
Bridges fully replace missing teeth, restoring your smile and giving you back the ability to chew naturally and speak clearly. An added bonus, dental bridges prevent the face from taking on a sunken look, maintaining the shape of your face.
Dental bridges are also known for keeping other teeth from straying. When a tooth is lost, other teeth begin to shift toward the space. This can cause bite issues and TMJ, a painful jaw condition that sometimes results from a bite that does not fit together. Bridges keep this from happening.
What is the procedure like?
In the first appointment, the two adjacent teeth on either side of the missing tooth (the abutment teeth) are prepared. The dentist will shape them into the appropriate size for the crowns to be placed over them. An impression will be taken of the mouth in order to make the customized crowns. A temporary bridge will be placed while the permanent bridge is created in the lab.
At the second appointment, the permanent bridge is placed. The dentist will test the fit to make sure it feels and looks right against the other natural teeth. When the fit is confirmed both by patient and dentist, the bridge is cemented into place.
Types of dental bridge
There are generally three different types of dental bridges: traditional bridges, cantilever bridges and Maryland bonded bridges.
Traditional bridges require the two teeth on either side of the space to be prepared into an abutment (peg shape) in order to work. The dentist will create a crown for the teeth on either side of the missing tooth with one pontic in between. These are the most commonly used bridges and are usually made from porcelain fused to metal or ceramics.
Cantilever is defined as a support structure made from a long projecting beam fixed at one end. As their name would suggest, these are used when there is only a tooth on one side of the missing tooth. Cantilever bridges are most often used in the front of the mouth, where there is less bite pressure.
Maryland bonded bridges
These are also known as resin-bonded bridges. Made from porcelain, porcelain fused to metal or plastic, Maryland bridges include artificial gums supported by metal framework. There are metal wings on one side of the bridge that are bonded to existing teeth.
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