What is a Dental Tooth Bridge?
A dental bridge is a prosthetic device that is permanently placed in your mouth with dental cement. A dental bridge can be compared to a denture but unlike a denture, only a dentist can remove a bridge.
How do Bridges Work?
Dentists recommend and use dental bridges to fill the gap of a missing tooth or missing teeth. When there is a space left open that was one occupied by a tooth, the surrounding teeth can start to move or shift into the open space or rotate in their current spots. Should your teeth start to move from their original placement, your bite will be thrown off balance. Unbalanced bites can lead to more serious trouble like temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
A dental bridge can prevent more serious issues from developing in the future. Dental bridges are used to replace missing teeth by cementing a replacement tooth to the neighboring teeth.
The neighboring teeth that are used to anchor the replacement teeth in place are called abutments. The replacement tooth that fills in the gap of the missing tooth is called the pontic. The pontic attaches to the abutments with crowns that cover the permanent teeth. The crowns and the pontic can be made from a variety of materials and can be designed to match the color of your teeth as well as the shape of the original teeth. Depending on where the bridge is located in your mouth, the aesthetics may play a more important role. Functionally, your dental bridge will mimic your original teeth and your dentist can help you choose the material that will work the best for you.
How are Crowns and Bridges Made?
The dentist will need to make some adjustments to your current teeth before the dentist can make the crowns and the bridge to complete your smile. The abutments will need to be reduced in size slightly to accommodate the crowns and to maintain the health of your current bite. The dentist will then need to make an impression of the teeth to create a custom crown to anchor your dental bridge. After the dentist takes the impression, the dentist will set a temporary crown or bridge in place until the final piece is ready.
If after discussing the material options, you and your dentist choose porcelain, then the dentist will make sure to create the bridge in the proper color. Porcelain is an ideal material for near perfect color matching. No matter the material, a dental lab will use the impression to create a personalized bridge. The shape, material, size, and color will be adjusted to perfectly fit in your mouth. Once the dental lab has finished your bridge, the dentist will set the crowns and bridge in place with cement. The dentist may need to make some minor adjustments to ensure a good fit and you will be on your way home with a complete and lasting smile.
How Long do Crowns and Bridges Last?
If you take good care of your dental bridge and choose the ideal material with your dentist’s guidance, your dental bridge can last for decades. Occasionally, a crown or bridge may come loose or even fall out and your dentist will need to help you set it in place again. The best way to avoid having to repeat your dental bridge appointment, is to maintain good habits at home. Brushing and flossing twice a day and keeping twice yearly dental visits go a long way to keep larger problems from causing damage to the dental bone or the teeth surrounding the bridge.
More on Dental Bridges : Dental Bridge Procedure