Bridges are one of the oldest staples in the practice of dentistry, dating back to ancient times. While ancients used gold dental bridges as a status symbol and to replace missing teeth, modern dentistry opts for more natural-looking bridges.
What Are Bridges?
Dental bridges are composed of two parts: abutments and pontics. Abutments are porcelain crowns adhered to the neighboring teeth, anchoring the bridge in place. Pontics are the artificial teeth that replace missing ones. They maintain continuity along the dental arch for normal chewing and speech.
One missing tooth may not seem significant–especially if it’s missing in the back–but a gap in the dental arch can lead to significant problems. Missing teeth can cause remaining teeth to crowd and shift; clinically, this is known as dental drift. And it is one of numerous oral health issues. Dental drift causes overlaps and pockets in the mouth that are hard to clean with just brushing and flossing, resulting in an increased risk of plaque infection and ultimately decay and gum disease. Shifting teeth also misalign biting patterns, potentially leading to TMJ–headaches, muscle pain in the neck and shoulder, popping jaws and difficulty in opening and closing the mouth.
Full vs. Partial Bridges
Bridges fall into two categories—removable and fixed. Removable bridge wearers may remove it for cleaning and before bedtime. A fixed bridge is permanently “fixed” to abutments and provides better stability to surrounding teeth. It can only be removed by a dentist.
Bridge installation procedures are as follows:
- The dentist applies local anesthetic and prepares the abutments.
- A mold is taken of the prepared teeth so a precise fit may be obtained.
- The dentist will fit the tooth with a temporary bridge until the permanent one is ready.
- The dentist will fit and attach the permanent bridge on the second visit.
If we suggest a bridge after a thorough exam of your teeth, gums and supporting bone structure, we will discuss what treatment options are best and answer any questions or concerns that you might have.