Dental bridges are a common dental restoration used to replace one or more missing teeth. They are designed to "bridge" the gap created by missing teeth and restore both the function and appearance of your smile. Here are some key points about dental bridges:
- Types of Dental Bridges:
- Traditional Dental Bridge: This type of bridge consists of one or more artificial teeth (pontics) held in place by dental crowns on the adjacent natural teeth, which act as abutments.
- Cantilever Bridge: In cases where there is only one adjacent natural tooth to support the bridge, a cantilever bridge may be used. It involves attaching the pontic to a single abutment tooth.
- Maryland Bridge (Resin-Bonded Bridge): This type of bridge uses a metal or porcelain framework with wings that are bonded to the back of the adjacent teeth. It is a less invasive option that doesn't require the removal of as much tooth structure.
- Purpose of Dental Bridges:
- Replacing Missing Teeth: Dental bridges are used to fill the gap created by missing teeth, which can improve chewing function, speech, and aesthetics.
- Preventing Tooth Shifting: Bridges help prevent adjacent and opposing teeth from shifting out of their proper positions, which can lead to bite problems and misalignment.
- Evaluation: Your dentist will assess your oral health, the condition of the adjacent teeth, and the number of missing teeth to determine if a bridge is suitable for you.
- Tooth Preparation: For a traditional bridge, the adjacent teeth (abutments) are usually reshaped by removing a portion of their enamel to accommodate crowns. This step is irreversible.
- Impressions: Impressions of your teeth are taken to create a custom bridge that fits your mouth.
- Temporary Bridge: While the permanent bridge is being fabricated, you may be fitted with a temporary bridge to protect the prepared teeth.
- Fitting and Cementation: Once the permanent bridge is ready, it is checked for fit and appearance, and then it is cemented in place.
- Care and Maintenance:
- Good oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing, is essential to maintain the health of the bridge and surrounding teeth.
- Regular dental check-ups are important for monitoring the condition of the bridge and making any necessary adjustments or repairs.
- Longevity: Dental bridges can last for many years, but their lifespan depends on factors such as oral hygiene, the materials used, and the quality of the dental work.
- Materials: Bridges can be made from various materials, including porcelain, porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM), metal alloys, and zirconia. The choice of material depends on factors such as aesthetics, strength, and cost.