Dental Bridges FAQs
As people age, their teeth tend to decay and weaken at an increasing pace. Fortunately, there are options for replacing lost teeth through reconstructive or restorative dentistry.
What is a dental bridge?
Dental bridges are natural-looking tooth replacements that help to maintain facial structure, reduce stress on the jaw and fill in the gaps caused by missing teeth. Dental bridges replace missing teeth with a short row of prosthetics that rely on the strength of surrounding natural teeth, called abutment teeth, to help stabilize the bite. Bridges also help keep adjacent teeth from moving into the open space left by the missing tooth.
Why is a dental bridge necessary?
Improving both the function and appearance of the mouth are important reasons to wear a bridge. A bridge provides support to the lower part of the face. The loss of a back tooth may result in sunken cheeks, causing the face to look considerably older.
With lost teeth, there is a risk of further dental deterioration. Problems with biting, chewing and speaking may develop. In addition, the patient may experience headaches, muscle pain and an unattractive appearance. A mouth with its full complement of teeth is essential for many daily functions. Furthermore, damaged or missing teeth may also lead to other serious dental conditions such as gum disease, infection and further tooth loss.
What are the types of dental bridges?
There are three types of dental bridges: traditional or fixed bridges, resin-bonded or Maryland-bonded bridges which are usually used for front teeth, and cantilever bridges which are usually used in the back of the mouth.
How is a dental bridge attached?
Obtaining a bridge is typically accomplished in two or three dental appointments. To ensure a perfect fit and correct bite, impressions of the teeth are taken. These are sent to a lab where skilled technicians construct the bridge. Once the dentist has made sure that the bridge fits the patient's mouth properly, it is cemented to the natural teeth on either side of the gap and a pontic, or false tooth, is affixed. To support the bridge, crowns are cemented onto the nearby natural teeth.
What materials are used for a dental bridge?
Dental bridges may be made of porcelain, gold, alloys or a combination of these. Porcelain is also sometimes fused to metal for both durability and aesthetics.
How should a dental bridge be maintained?
Bridges should be cared for in the same way as natural teeth. The patient should be sure to thoroughly brush and floss around the bridge and surrounding teeth. As always, it is important to practice proper oral hygiene to prevent the build-up of bacteria and plaque on the teeth and gums.
- Medline Plus
- National Institutes of Health
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine