What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is a false tooth that is used to replace one or more missing teeth, and can be used to improve appearance, speech problems or misalignment of 'bite'. The false tooth is called a 'pontic', and can be made from a variety of materials including porcelain or gold. The pontic has a crown on each side of it - the crowns sit on the teeth either side of the gap that is to be filled, thereby holding the pontic in place.
Dental bridges can last up to 10 years, provided you keep up good oral hygiene and eating habits.
Are there different types of dental bridges?
Yes, there are three main types:
Three-unit bridge - this is the traditional type of bridge. The pontic (false tooth) is fused between two crowns that are anchored onto the teeth either side of a gap. These bridges are fixed in place and cannot be removed.
Cantilever bridge - These bridges are anchored to neighbouring teeth on one side only, provided the neighbouring tooth is healthy enough.
Adhesive bridges - these are used to fill gaps between teeth when the adjacent teeth are strong and healthy. 'Wings', hidden from view, are glued onto the adjacent teeth to hold the false tooth in place.
Your dentist will be able to advise which bridge is best for you, based on your needs and condition of teeth.
How are dental bridges fitted?
Bridges need more than one appointment to be fitted. At the first appointment:
The dentist numbs the area with anaesthetic
The teeth on either side of the gap are shaped to take the new crown over them
Dental putty is then used to take an impression of the teeth
A temporary bridge is fitted to protect the teeth and gums until the permanent one is fitted
At the next appointment, the dentist removes the temporary bridge and the new permanent bridge is fitted. Occasionally, fine adjustments to the bridge may later be required.
What happens after the bridge is fitted?
It is important to keep up good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing teeth regularly. This will help prevent bad breath and tooth decay, and increase the lifespan of the bridge. Your teeth may also become mildly sensitive to temperature for a few weeks after treatment.
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You may also be interested to read our articles on Crowns, Dentures, Implants, Tooth straightening, Tooth whitening, or Veneers
The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding which procedure is right for you. Please also read our disclaimer