About the procedure
During the first visit, the abutment teeth are prepared. Preparation involves recontouring these teeth by removing a portion of enamel to allow room for a crown to be placed over them. Next, impressions of your teeth are made, which serve as a model from which the bridge, pontic, and crowns will be made by a dental laboratory.
Your dentist will make a temporary bridge for you to wear to protect the exposed teeth and gums while your bridge is being made.
During the second visit, your temporary bridge will be removed and the new permanent bridge will be checked and adjusted, as necessary, to achieve a proper fit. Multiple visits may be required to check the fit of the metal framework and bite. This is dependent on each individual’s case. If the dental bridge is a fixed (permanent) bridge, your dentist may temporarily cement it in place for a couple of weeks to make sure it is fitting properly.
After a couple weeks, the bridge is permanently cemented into place.
There are three main types of dental bridges: Traditional, Cantilever, and Maryland bonded bridges. Most procedures involve traditional bridges and these are described further in the article.
- Traditional bridges involve creating a crown for the tooth or implant both sides of the missing tooth, with a pontic (artificial tooth) in between. Traditional bridges are most commonly made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics. While they can be bad from silver and gold amalgams, porcelain is used most as it looks natural.
- Cantilever bridges are basically bridges that are fixed only on one side. They are less strong and resilient and are not suited for teeth at the back of the mouth.
- Maryland bridges use “wings” on the sides of the artificial tooth, which means that less or no damage to the adjacent teeth has to be done. The downside is that such a bridge is less strong.
During the first visit, the abutment teeth are prepared. The abutment teeth are teeth that will hold the dental bridge. Abutment teeth should be healthy to be able to hold the bridge and absorb the forces. These teeth are recontoured – a small portion of tooth enamel is removed so that the crown can be fixed on them. This process is done with a local anesthetic. Then the dentist will make impressions of your teeth. These serve as a model from which the bridge, pontic, and crowns will be custom made in a dental laboratory.
The dentist will also take the shade of your teeth so that the laboratory can make the bridge to look as natural as possible. Your dentist will also make a temporary bridge for you. It is used to protect the exposed teeth and gums while your bridge is being made, to prevent any damage and pain that might occur otherwise. The permanent bridge should arrive within a few weeks.
During the second visit, the dentist will remove your temporary bridge and adjust the new, permanent dental bridge to achieve a proper fit.
Your dentist may require you to visit multiple times to check the fit of the metal framework and bite, depending on the individual and the complexity of the dental bridge.
Generally, two appointments are enough. When the bridge fits properly and you are satisfied with the shade, the dentist will use dental cement to bond the bridge to the teeth. There may be some discomfort in the initial few days, but everything should quickly return to normal.
Dental bridges are a great way of achieving natural bite and tooth function. They look aesthetically pleasing, just like natural teeth. It is not very difficult to care for them, but care needs to be taken to clean under the bridge to avoid plaque build-up. Due to the nature of the bridge, it is impossible to floss between the teeth, but underside should be cleaned well daily. Flossing each day is recommended, along with brushing your teeth. They also last for a very long time and don’t need to be removed for cleaning. Most bridges last at least five to 15 years. If properly cared for, they should last for at least 10 years. Those with resin bridges should be more careful about which food they eat and how hard they chew; resin is weaker than the traditional, ceramic dental bridges.
A major drawback, though, is that parts of adjacent healthy teeth need to be removed for the bridge to fit properly. Should these teeth fail, the bridge may need to be extended or it, too, will fail. As there is no root below the bridge (pontic), the bone may begin to deteriorate and cause jaw defects. Dental implants do not suffer from these problems but are significantly more time-consuming and more expensive. Dental bridges may also be attached to dental implants. The cost for dental bridges varies depending on the type of bridge selected. Most dental insurances cover at least a portion of the cost. Generally speaking, dental bridges are a good way of ensuring the normal function of your teeth and should be considered if you have missing teeth and think you might benefit from this type of treatment.