What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is a fixed appliance used to replace one or more missing teeth. It is cemented into place and can't be removed by the patient.
How is a dental bridge constructed?
As the name implies, the bridge is made out of 3 (or more) pieces fused together that fit into the open space in the mouth, "bridging" the gap. Most bridges are made of a false tooth or teeth, held together by 2 crowns. Crowns or "caps" cover and support teeth, approximating their normal size and shape. This trio is then cemented to the support teeth on each side of the gap. In some situations, a bridge may be supported by dental implants rather than natural teeth.
Who is a candidate for bridges?
Many people who have one or more missing teeth are candidates for a dental bridge. The teeth that will support the bridge must be in good health and have good bone support. However, the difference between proper and improper oral hygiene is an important factor in the success of the dental bridge.
What are the different types of dental bridges?
There are several different types of dental bridges. Your dentist or oral health specialist will recommend the most appropriate one for your mouth condition and the location of the missing tooth or teeth.
Traditional bridge - as described above, this bridge consists of a false tooth held together by 2 crowns. The trio is cemented to the surrounding teeth on each side of the gap.
Resin-bonded bridge - this type of bridge involves fusing the false teeth to metal bands that are bonded to the back of the teeth on each side of the gap. This procedure is common when the teeth missing are in the front of the mouth. While they are a conservative approach, they have a higher failure rate than traditional bridges.
Cantilever bridge - this type of procedure is most appropriate when there is only one tooth to act as support for the tooth being replaced.
Oral health care and bridges
The following recommendations will help to eliminate, or reduce, any oral health problems while your teeth are restored with a bridge:
Brush your teeth carefully after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent tooth decay and remove any food lodged in the bridge or gums. This may lead to further problems resulting in the loss of the bridge.
Floss daily. Your dentist, or other oral health specialist, may recommend using a floss threader to carry floss under the false tooth so that it and the supporting teeth can be cleaned.
Have your teeth cleaned every 6 months by an oral health professional.
Limit your sugar and starch intake, as debris left behind from these types of foods may turn into damaging acids, which can cause cavities.
Avoid hard and sticky snacks. This includes foods such as popcorn kernels, hard or chewy candy, caramel, ice chips, and nuts.
Most bridges last more than 10 years with proper care.