A dental bridge is used to replace a missing tooth or teeth. It is used to “bridge” the gap between teeth by suspending a false tooth between two strong teeth. A missing tooth can potentially cause shifting of the teeth surrounding the gap and potentially loss of the tooth above the missing space. With changes to your bite occurring, the shape of your face may also start to change. it may distort your jaw alignment or cause speech impairments if the tooth or teeth are missing towards the front of your mouth. Dental bridges are an option in maintaining the harmony and function between your teeth and mouth. Compared to the gold standard option of a dental implant, a bridge is the more affordable option, but it can come at the cost of healthy teeth.
Types of dental bridges
There are three types of dental bridges that are commonly used today:
- Traditional fixed bridge - This is the most common type of dental bridge, in which porcelain crowns are placed over the two surrounding teeth and used as anchors to hold the false tooth in place. The false tooth is usually made of either porcelain fused to metal or strong ceramics.
- Cantilever bridge – A cantilever bridge is used when teeth are present on only one side of the gap. These are used typically in areas of your mouth that doesn’t experience an intense chewing load, such as your front teeth.
- Resin-bonded bridge - In a resin-bonded bridge, metal bands are bonded to the surrounding teeth with resin and used to hold a plastic false tooth in place. This type of bridge is typically used in areas of the mouth that undergo less stress, such as the front teeth.
How it's done
A minimum of two visits are required for placing a dental bridge. At the first visit, three important steps are completed. Firstly, the surrounding teeth are prepared to be fitted with a crown. This may include reshaping the tooth so that the crown can fit over it. Secondly, an impression is taken of your teeth which will be sent to a laboratory to prepare the bridge and crown. Finally, the dentist fits your teeth with a temporary bridge to protect them while the bridge is prepared at the laboratory.
At the second visit, the temporary bridge is removed and the new bridge received from the laboratory is fitted and adjusted. Multiple visits may be necessary to check and adjust the fit.