Dental bridges are natural-looking dental appliances, used to replace a section of missing teeth. They literally bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth. Bridges are custom-made and thus, hardly noticeable. In fact, they can be designed to match the natural contour of your surrounding teeth, as well as match the bite relationship between your upper and lower teeth.
Traditional dental bridges (or pontics) are permanently placed between two healthy teeth and held in place by porcelain crowns. The crowns are placed on the healthy teeth on each end of the space needing to be filled. By anchoring the bridge to a patient’s healthy teeth, a greater degree of stability, strength, longevity, and comfort can be expected.
Dental bridges provide patients with a wide variety of benefits. They help to restore a more natural looking smile, as well as the ability to properly chew and speak. In addition, bridges help to maintain the shape of one’s face, aid in the proper distribution of biting and chewing forces, allow for a more natural bite, help to reduce the risk of gum disease, and prevent existing teeth from shifting out of position.
There are three main types of dental bridges:
1. Traditional bridges are the most common type of bridge and are made using either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics.
2. Cantilever bridges are used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth.
3. Maryland bonded bridges (also called resin-bonded bridges or Maryland bridges) are made of plastic teeth and gums supported by a metal framework. Metal wings on each side of the bridge are bonded to your existing teeth.
The dental bridge process generally begins with the administration of a local anesthetic. Next, the abutment teeth are prepared. Preparation involves recontouring- by removing a portion of enamel to allow room for the crown. Next, teeth impressions are taken. The impressions serve as a model from which the bridge, pontic, and crowns are made from. A temporary bridge will be provided at this point in order to protect your teeth and gums while your permanent bridge is being made.
During the second visit, the temporary bridge is removed and the new permanent bridge is affixed, evaluated, and adjusted in an effort to achieve the most proper and comfortable fit. Several office visits may be required in order to check and properly calibrate the fit of the metal framework and bite. This is dependent on each individual’s case.
Patients sometimes wonder if it will be difficult to eat with a dental bridge in place. However, as dental bridges replace missing teeth, eating actually becomes easier. In order to make the transition a bit smoother, we oftentimes advise that until patients are more accustomed to their bridge, that they eat only soft or chopped up pieces of food.
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