What is a bridge?
A bridge (sometimes called a fixed partial denture) replaces missing teeth – it attaches artificial teeth to your adjacent natural teeth. Bridges are made by either placing crowns on the adjacent teeth with the artificial teeth attached in between or by bonding the artificial teeth directly to the adjacent teeth. Bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dental professional. They offer more stability and comfort than a removable partial denture.
Why do I need a bridge?
Functionality and appearance are the most important reasons for wearing a bridge. Teeth are designed to complement each other. Your teeth support your lips and cheeks and affect many daily functions including eating and speaking. A missing tooth may cause your mouth to sink inwards, your chin and/or nose to protrude more, your face to appear older than it really is and shifting of your remaining teeth which could lead to periodontal disease and more tooth loss. Missing teeth affect speaking clearly and concisely and can also cause speech disorders.
Dental health is another important reason for a bridge. Unusual stresses placed on your gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing cause a number of potentially harmful dental disorders such as an increased risk of gum disease. Missing teeth should be replaced to avoid long-term and ultimately un-repairable damage to remaining teeth, gums and jaw alignment.
How is a bridge attached?
The attachment procedure for a bridge usually takes two or three appointments to complete. At the first appointment we will prepare the teeth on either side of the missing tooth by removing a portion of the enamel and dentin. A fixed bridge joins the false tooth to the crowns of the adjacent teeth spanning the open space just like a regular automobile bridge does. Your natural teeth act as an anchor and supply the strength and support needed for normal, natural-looking dental function. Since the bridge must be custom fabricated to ensure proper alignment with the surrounding and opposing teeth, impressions of the existing teeth are taken and sent to a lab where the bridge is custom made to your own contours. You leave our office with a temporary bridge in place until the permanent is made. Upon returning, we will remove the temporary bridge and permanently cement your new one in place. Now you can eat and smile with confidence knowing that you look your best.
How do I take care of my bridge?
A strict regimen of brushing and flossing will keep the bridge and the surrounding teeth clean. This is of critical importance as the bridge relies on the neighboring teeth for support and strength. Your dental professional will be happy to demonstrate the best way to brush and floss once you have a bridge in place.
If you have lost some or all of your teeth, whether from tooth decay, periodontal disease, or injury, partial/full dentures can replace your missing teeth and let you smile comfortably again! With improvements in dental implants (see Implants) and other techniques in recent years, removable dentures are not as common as they once were. However conventional removable partial or full dentures can still be a very effective solution for many people who suffer from complete or partial tooth loss. Your dental professional can evaluate which options for tooth replacement are available to you and answer your questions about risks and benefits.