Dental bridges are restorations designed to 'bridge the gap' between teeth, where one or more teeth are missing. Bridges can restore your smile, enable you to speak, eat and chew properly, maintain the shape of your face and prevent your remaining teeth from drifting and moving into the gap. Held in place by dental cement, this functional and cosmetic treatment is effective and long-lasting.
A dental bridge usually consists of crowns placed either side of the gap, and a false tooth is inserted to fill the space between. Sometimes, a bridge can consist of one or more 'wings' that hold a false tooth, bonded to the teeth on either side of the gap.
It is generally recommended that missing teeth should be replaced to prevent the remaining teeth from shifting or moving into the remaining space. Shifting teeth can create further problems such as:
- food and plaque traps
- gum disease - also called periodontal disease
- stresses on other teeth leading to tooth wear and occlusal disease
- temporomandibular joint (TMJ) misalignment and pain
Like crowns, bridges are designed to last a long time, but problems can develop if they are not cared for properly. Good oral hygiene habits and home and regular dental visits should prevent this from happening.
What are your options?
The options to fill a gap where you are missing teeth is to consider having a removable partial denture or dental implants instead of a bridge. Your will depend on several factors, such as the condition of the supporting bone structure, as well as cost and time considerations. Our team is always happy to discuss this with you and evaluate which is best for your unique situation.
The dental bridge procedure
To create your dental bridge, we'll need to take an impression of your teeth, either digitally or in a specialised dental material. It's usually necessary to make some alterations to the natural teeth to ensure that there's sufficient room for the supporting crowns. We send the impression of your teeth to our master technician's laboratory, where your bridge will be custom-made.
Your bridge can be made from various materials:
- Porcelain fused to a metal structure.
This is the traditional and most well-documented material. The dental technician expertly shapes and blends porcelain onto a metal structure which provides a very durable and aesthetic framework.
- Porcelain fused to zirconia structure.
Zirconia is a metal-free option - a robust porcelain-like material that mimics tooth structure and produces a more aesthetic result.
- The Maryland bridge
This is a good aesthetic option that offers minimal damage to the neighbouring teeth. Maryland bridges are made up of a specialised resin or porcelain that is cemented directly to the enamel of adjacent teeth using a 'wing' attachment, as mentioned above. Due to the light preparations involved, there's no need to expose the part of your tooth known as the dentin, which eliminates the risk of procedural sensitivity. The process is usually completely reversible.
Caring for your bridge
As with all dental restorations, it's important to maintain a high level of oral hygiene. It would be best if you cared for it as you would your natural teeth, as your bridge is still vulnerable to damage caused by insufficient brushing and excessive intakes of sugary foods and drinks. If you take good care of it, your bridge can last upwards of 10 years.