Dental Bridges

By: Patricia Woloch

What is a dental bridge?

A dental bridge is a dental appliance used to help patients with missing teeth restore their healthy bite and complete their smile. They are permanent restorations that allow people to regain the chewing function missing due to tooth loss. Not only do they help fill in the missing gaps that tooth loss causes, but they also provide support for neighboring teeth, underlying bone, and gum tissue. Men and women with one or more missing teeth may be a candidate for a dental bridge.

How is it created?

A dental bridge consists of three pieces that combine to fill in the open space. The cosmetic dentist uses a pontic tooth (the false tooth) and two crowns, one on either side of the new tooth to anchor it in place and provide support. The three elements are created together, and then cemented onto the neighboring teeth.

Who is a candidate?

Those with at least one missing tooth may be candidates for a dental bridge. Your cosmetic dentist will need to check the health of the neighboring teeth, however, to make sure they are able to withstand the support and crown restorations.

Types of Bridges

Depending on the location of your missing tooth and the condition of neighboring teeth, your dentist may recommend one type of bridge over another. Here's what your options are:

Traditional bridge - A traditional bridge consists of two crowns plus a false tooth are cemented or secured to the neighboring teeth.

Resin-bonded bridge - The resin-bonded bridge (aka "Maryland" bridge) is used when front teeth are missing, a false tooth is fused with metal bands and bonded to the back of the neighboring teeth.

Cantilever bridge - The cantilever bridge is used when there is only one neighboring tooth available for support.

Protecting the Life of a Bridge

Bridges to correct missing teeth can last many years with great care. Treat them as you would natural teeth by keeping them brushed and flossed. The neighboring teeth are still susceptible to decay, so use a soft-bristle brush and make sure flossing occurs after meals to remove food particles. Limit sugary snacks, or particularly hard or sticky foods that could damage the bridged teeth.

Patients with missing teeth may also consider dental implants or dentures.

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