If a tooth is removed or is missing, a bridge can be made to replace it. The artificial tooth (pontic) can be fabricated in our dental clinic and permanently fixed in place with crown support of healthy teeth on each side (abutment teeth). It is literally a bridge of teeth. This helps maintain normal tooth function, appearance and placement of the remaining teeth. Otherwise the latter may tend to drift inward. Bridges can help you chew, speak and smile.
In our dental practices, bridges can be made of a variety of materials including ceramics or porcelain fused to metal. The decision regarding the type and materials depends upon the condition and location of the intended treatment area. Bridges can be traditional as described above, bonded or cantilevered. Bonded bridges are recommended for people with good oral health and where the location is near the front of the mouth, avoiding the large chewing surfaces. It involves attaching the imitation tooth to the surrounding teeth by metal wings which are cemented in place. Cantilevered bridges are used when the adjacent teeth are present only on one side.
After extensive dental examination and discussion with the patient in our dental clinic, the decision to make a bridge may be made in a comprehensive and informed manner. Ensuring proper support of the bridge enables your dentist to create a successful and satisfying restoration for you.
Initially, the affected area is frozen. The abutment teeth are prepared by thinly shaping them thus allowing room for the eventual crowns. A mould is made of the two healthy lateral supporting teeth on each side of the gap. This mould is forwarded to a dental lab to craft two crowns and an imitation tooth as one custom unit perfectly matching the colour and shape of the existing teeth. Upon receipt of the bridge, the affected area is frozen. The side teeth are prepared, the bridge is positioned affixing crowns to the abutment teeth simultaneously. It is permanently cemented in place.
Our dental clinic staff would be happy to demonstrate the brushing and flossing of the bridge, to ensure long-lasting results. Regular dental clinic appointments and good oral hygiene will prolong the lifespan and function of your bridge. Eating will be made easier with a permanent bridge in place as the tooth surface is expanded. Speech can also be improved if the affected area is near the front of your mouth.
A partial denture is considered if the gap is for several teeth or the supportive teeth are unable to hold the required crowns.
Careful planning with both the patient and dentist will ensure the proper treatment method for creating a dental bridge was selected to achieve the desired result.
Q Why should I replace missing teeth?
A Your appearance is one reason. Another is that the gap left by a missing tooth can mean greater strain on the teeth at either side. A gap can also mean your ‘bite’ is affected, because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and alter the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. This can then lead to food getting packed into the gap, which causes both decay and gum disease.
Q How are missing teeth replaced?
A This depends on the number of teeth missing and on where they are in the mouth. The condition of the other teeth also affects the decision. There are two main two ways to replace the missing teeth. The first is with a removable false tooth or teeth – a partial denture. The second is with a fixed bridge. A bridge is usually used where there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth.
Q Can I always have a bridge to replace missing teeth?
A Yes, if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support. Your dentist will help you decide the best way of replacing your missing teeth within your budget.
Q What are bridges made of?
A Bridges are usually made of a precious metal base. If the bridge will show, porcelain is then bonded to the base. Sometimes, there are other non-precious metals used in the base to reduce the cost.
Q Are bridges expensive?
A Although a bridge may seem expensive it will last many years. It will also improve your appearance and bite. A bridge uses the considerable skill of the dentist and technician, and in this way, it’s similar to ordering a piece of hand-made jewellery. The materials are also expensive so it’s fair to say a bridge will not be the cheapest treatment you have ever had.
Q How do I look after my bridge?
A You need to clean your bridge every day, to prevent problems such as bad breath and gum disease. You also have to clean under the false tooth every day. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to use a bridge needle or special floss, as a normal toothbrush cannot reach.
Q Are there other methods for fixing false teeth?
A There are other methods, such as using a combination of crowns and partial dentures that can keep the retaining clips out of sight. These are quite specialised dentures, so you should ask your dentist about them. You can also have teeth implanted, ask your dentist for more information. Remember that it’s as important to care for your remaining teeth as it is to replace the missing ones.
Q Are there different types of bridge?
A Yes, there are different types of bridge which use different fixing methods. Your dentist will choose the most effective and conservative bridge for your personal situation.