What are dental bridges?
Dental bridges are false teeth, which are anchored onto neighbouring teeth in order to replace one or more missing teeth. The false tooth is known as a pontic and is fused in between two crowns on either side. The crowns serve as anchors which sit on the natural teeth on either side of the gap, thereby bridging the teeth together.
What are the parts of a typical dental bridge (fixed)?
A dental bridge essentially consists of:
- A pontic or false tooth used to replace the missing tooth, which is made from gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials.
- Two crowns - serving to anchor the false tooth in place.
When are dental bridges needed?
Bridges are recommended when there are one or more teeth missing that affect:
- Your smile and appearance.
- Your bite, as a result of adjacent teeth leaning into the space and altering the way the upper and lower teeth bite together.
- Your speech.
- The shape of your face.
- The rates of gum disease and tooth decay as a result of food accumulated in the gap.
Must missing teeth be replaced?
Yes, missing teeth must be replaced for many reasons:
- To improve your appearance.
- To reduce the strain on the teeth at either side of the missing tooth.
- To prevent the neighbouring teeth from leaning into the resulting gap and altering the bite.
- To prevent gum disease and tooth decay due to accumulation of food in the gap.
There are three main types of dental bridges:
1. Traditional fixed bridge
This is the most commonly used type of bridge and consists of a pontic fused between two porcelain crowns that are anchored on neighbouring teeth or implants. The pontic is usually made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics. These are fixed and cannot be removed.
2. Resin-bonded bridges or Maryland-bonded bridges
These are chosen when the gap to be filled is in between the front teeth, or when the teeth on either side of the missing tooth are strong and healthy without large fillings. The false tooth is made of plastic and is fused to metal bands that are bonded to the adjacent teeth using resin that is hidden from view.
3. Cantilever bridges
These are opted for in areas such as the front teeth that are susceptible to lower biting stress. Cantilever bridges are used when there are teeth present on only one side of the space, where the false tooth is anchored to one or more adjacent teeth on one side.
What are bridges made of?
Bridges may be made of:
- Porcelain bonded to precious metal.
- All-metal dental bridges (gold).
1. The two adjacent teeth of the gap are prepared, as they will hold the bridge in place.
2. The 'wings' of the bridge are also prepared. A strong composite resin cement is used to bond the wings to the back of the teeth.
3. The wings of the bridge are not visible from the front.