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Dental Bridges

Also known as a fixed partial denture, dental bridges are a form of restoration that dentists use to fill gaps left by missing teeth. The bridge is held fast in the mouth by permanent fixings that attach it to the surrounding teeth. There are different types of bridges for varying dental problems, and the construction and implementation of the bridge is dependent on what state the teeth are in to begin with. 

The main reason a patient might be in need of a dental bridge is that they have lost a tooth to decay, gum disease or as a result of an accident. Damage to teeth can occur suddenly and unexpectedly, so if you have gaps in your smile due to an injury, get yourself down to the dentist to see what they can do to help. It’s not just a case of aesthetics when this happens, there can be complications from having lost a tooth; uneven pressure will put more strain on the remaining teeth and could cause them to wear in places, the gap could trap food particles in it and lead to decay, or it could affect speech. Also missing teeth, allow the opposing teeth to super-erupt unchallenged out of their socket which can create gum problems around the opposing tooth.

Dentists creating a dental bridge will first have to align the remaining teeth and reduce their size in order for the new bridge to sit comfortably and securely. It’s vital that the dimensions of the bridge are precisely measured, and that the teeth still in the jaw have a greater surface area than that of the ones being replaced – otherwise more uneven pressure will be exerted on the natural teeth, causing long-term problems.

Porcelain is the most widely used material to build a dental bridge, but there are also some dentists who will use gold, zirconium or porcelain fused to metal. The materials used can greatly affect the end result and how long it will last, as well has requiring a different amount of reduction on the natural teeth during the preparation procedure. The dummy tooth, or ‘pontic’ must be incredibly durable and be fitted to a fraction of a millimetre.

Furthermore, there are three types of dental bridge, if you are considering this procedure, your dentist will advise on which is best suited to you; fixed, resin bonded, or cantilever. Your teeth will first be examined to assess their quality and positioning. 

If you are fitted with a fixed bridge, your new false tooth made from ceramic or porcelain generally – will be attached to abutments covering the teeth next to it, to keep it in place. Using the surrounding teeth as anchors creates a strong structure for holding the pontic in place.

Resin bonded adhesive bridges frequently indicate that there has not been any serious damage to the adjacent teeth, which means that a plastic pontic can be fitted to the teeth with a metal wing and a strong resin, without the use of crowns on neighbouring teeth. Cantilever bridges solve the problem of having only one viable anchor tooth next to the gap, this type of bridge uses just the single neighbouring tooth to hold the pontic in place, making it a more viable option for low stress anterior areas of the mouth, rather than high stress posterior areas.

You can be measured and fitted with a dental bridge at the Pearl Dental Clinic, this will usually take at least two appointments – one to prepare the natural teeth for the bridge, and the second to fit it correctly. Occasionally patients are brought back for a review appointment to check that all is well with the new dental bridge fitted.

Taking care of your bridge will require paying a lot of attention to oral hygiene, remember to brush and floss daily, and clean carefully around the false tooth and the teeth which support it. You must attend any follow up appointments to make sure there is no discomfort or decay, without proper care a bridge won’t last very long and your remaining teeth could suffer further damage. Bridge pontics can be cleaned with tepe brushes or super-floss which can run underneath the bridge pontic. With good care, a dental bridge lasts around 10 years.