What are they?
A bridge replaces a missing tooth (or teeth) by fixing the replacement to the natural teeth at each side of the gap. Some bridges have crowns at each end. Others are fixed to the surface of the teeth beside the gap. Sometimes a bridge is only fixed to the tooth on one side of the gap.
Bridges are made of metal and porcelain, or occasionally of porcelain alone.
What does the dentist do?
There are several stages in making a bridge:
- The dentist uses soft, mouldable material to take impressions of your mouth. A dental technician makes exact plaster models of your upper and lower teeth and gums, which show how your teeth bite together.
- The teeth which will support the bridge are prepared so that the bridge is not too bulky;
- Another impression is taken of the teeth and any gaps, and the dental technician uses this to make the bridge. A plastic temporary bridge or temporary crown may be fitted in the meantime;
- At your final visit, the dentist will check that the bridge fits, make minor adjustments, and then fix it permanently in place.
Your dentist or hygienist will show you the best way of keeping your new bridge clean.
What are the benefits?
A bridge almost lets you forget that you have missing teeth;
- It can improve the way you look, bite, chew and speak;
- The teeth can be matched to the colour of your own teeth;
- A bridge can last many years if kept clean, and if there is no accidental damage;
- Natural teeth are protected from wear and tear, and from moving or tilting out of line which could cause your teeth to bite together incorrectly.
The alternatives to a bridge would be a removable partial denture, or a dental implant. The dentist will explain the chances of success with a bridge. If the supporting teeth are not strong enough a denture or dental implant might be a better treatment choice. If teeth have just been extracted, a denture might be made first, with a bridge fitted later when the gum has healed.