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Edward T., Winchester
What is a bridge?
A dental bridge is a fixed (non-removable) appliance that can be a convenient way to restore your smile when you have one or more missing teeth. The bridge gets its name because it literally “bridges the gap” between the remaining teeth. Unlike removable partial dentures, fixed bridges cannot be taken out of your mouth. They remain in place as you eat, speak and sleep - just like natural teeth.
What choices do I have for a bridge?
Several types of bridges are available.The most common type of bridge replaces one or more missing teeth using a “pontic” (or false tooth) to replace each missing tooth. The pontics are fused to crowns as “retainers” or anchors on the teeth on either side of the space. In most cases there will be just two retainer teeth, but additional retainers may be suggested depending on the number of pontics in the bridge. Maryland bridges and cantilever bridges are also options for some situations but much less common.
When considering a bridge, the health and strength of the retainer teeth on either side is very important. When a bridge is in place these teeth will be absorbing the additional forces for your missing teeth. Additionally, by placing crowns on the retainer teeth, you’ll need to pay extra attention to your oral hygiene care with brushing and flossing.
What are some of the benefits of a fixed bridge?
You’ll find bridges can:
- Restore your smile by filling the gap left by missing teeth
- Support the facial tissues for a more youthful look
- Help prevent the remaining teeth from shifting
- Help restore the ability to chew and speak naturally
- Remain in place as you eat, speak and sleep - just like natural teeth
What is the procedure for a fixed bridge?
Creating your bridge usually requires two visits. First, your dentist will numb your teeth and make sure you are comfortable. Your anchor teeth will be shaped and prepared for the retainer crowns and a highly accurate impression (mold) will be taken for our dental laboratory. You and your dentist will decide on the color and shape of your bridge and that information will also be sent to the lab. While the permanent fixed bridge is being created in the laboratory (a process that takes up to two weeks) you’ll have a temporary bridge in place for your comfort and protection.
During a shorter second visit, the temporary bridge will be removed and your new custom bridge will be carefully inspected, adjusted, and precisely cemented into place. In some cases, your dentist may choose to apply temporary cement to allow your teeth and gums to get used to the new appliance, waiting until a subsequent visit to permanently cement the bridge in place.
How long will my fixed bridge last?
Dental bridges are highly durable and with proper care can last more than ten years; however, they will need repair or replacement due to normal wear over time. You will receive instructions from your dentist and hygienists on how to care for your new appliance. As with natural teeth, good oral hygiene, healthy eating habits and regular dental visits will help maintain the life of your fixed bridge.
How can I find out more about fixed bridges?
Our dentists have years of experience in creating beautiful and functional fixed bridges. If you have any questions about fixed bridges, or would like to schedule a comprehensive exam to discuss with one of our dentists if this treatment could be right for you, please contact us! We’ll be glad to help.