All of your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing and maintaining proper alignment of other teeth, not to mention your appearance, so it is vital to replace any that are lost.
A bridge is a device used to replace missing teeth, and attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges can be attached permanently to the teeth. They are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dental professional.
Why do I need a bridge?
Restoring oral functionality is the most important reason for a bridge. When teeth – naturally designed to support each other – are missing, unusual stress is placed on the gums and other oral tissues, and there is a high risk of developing gum disease and a number of other potentially harmful disorders. A bridge can help prevent these problems when natural teeth are missing. A bridge will also help prevent the teeth from shifting. When there is a missing tooth resulting in a space, the teeth adjacent to the space may drift, and the tooth above or below the space may move as well.
Appearance is another important reason for wearing a bridge, which helps to support your lips and cheeks. A missing tooth may cause your mouth to sink and your face to look older. Missing teeth can also cause speech disorders since they are used to make many of the sounds we use to speak clearly.
How is a bridge attached?
Constructing and attaching a bridge typically requires two or three appointments. At the first appointment we will prepare the teeth on either side of the gap by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin. Since the bridge must be fabricated very precisely to ensure correct bite and to match the opposing tooth, impressions of the teeth are taken and sent to a lab where the bridge will be constructed. Fixed bridges are typically cemented to the natural teeth next to the space left by the missing tooth. A pontic (false tooth) replaces the lost tooth. Crowns, which are permanently attached to your natural teeth, provide support for the bridge.
What materials are used?
Bridges can be constructed from gold alloys, non-precious alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials. Porcelain is often bonded to either precious or non-precious metal.
How do I take care of my bridge?
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and surrounding teeth clean. Floss threaders will assist in cleaning around and underneath the bridge. This is vital since the bridge relies on the neighboring teeth for support.