What is a dental bridge?
A bridge is used as a fixed solution to replace a missing tooth or teeth. They are made up of abutments (the teeth used as anchors for the missing tooth/teeth) and pontics (the replacement teeth that are attached to the abutments). A bridge is often used as an alternative to dentures when there are only a few missing teeth, or there are a sufficient number of healthy teeth to act as abutments to support the bridge.
Bridges are available in a number of materials and finishes, with porcelain and ceramic bridges looking the most like natural teeth.
When might you require a bridge?
A bridge would be suggested if you have missing teeth that directly affect your smile or appearance. Additionally, if your teeth begin to strain at either side of the missing tooth, this might have an impact on your bite. A bridge would also be required if your speech or face shape is affected by the missing tooth.
How are bridges made?
There are several stages to the process of assessing and fitting a bridge.
- Your dentist may take an x-ray prior to commencing treatment. They will assess various factors to determine the most appropriate design and material of your bridge
- The tooth (or teeth) will need to be reduced in size (‘prepared’) so that the bridge can fit over it. This is usually done under local anaesthetic. Your dentist will take an impression of the preparation, which is sent to a dental laboratory
- The laboratory will then make your bridge. Your dentist will have specified the material, design and colour of the restoration
- The bridge is then fitted in your mouth – only once the dentist is confident that the fit, shape, shade and bite are correct. If these are not properly checked before fitting, several possible complications could occur
- Adhesive bridges are also an option – this procedure requires limited drilling as they are bonded to the back of the supporting teeth
How long should a bridge last?
If you maintain a high level of care for your bridge, it could last around 10-15 years. Good dental hygiene, such as effective brushing and flossing, along with a good diet and eating habits, will all contribute to how long your dental bridge will last.