A bridge is a permanently fixed dental prosthetic that replaces one or more natural missing teeth, thereby “bridging” the space between two teeth. A bridge typically consists of three units: a pontic (false tooth) fused between two crowns that are cemented onto the “abutment” teeth (the surrounding teeth on either side of the space or “span”). Unlike removable partial dentures, fixed bridges cannot be taken out of the mouth by the patient.
If you are missing any teeth and are committed to maintaining good oral hygiene practices, you may be a good candidate for a bridge. A bridge is a natural choice to fill the space in your mouth left by missing teeth. If left unfilled, this space can cause teeth and gums to become more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease that can cause further tooth loss. Fixed bridges not only correct an altered bite, improve your chewing ability and speech, but they also safeguard your appearance by preventing the collapse of your facial features that can cause premature wrinkles and age lines. Bridges are most indicated when the adjacent teeth, which will serve as abutments, would individually benefit from being crowned. Long spans, periodontally involved teeth, esthetics can affect candidacy for a bridge
For a traditional fixed bridge, we normally have 2 appointments. The first appointment consists of the dentist reducing the adjacent abutment teeth that will act as anchors. Impressions are made, from which a metal framework, including the pontic, is created. By the second appointment, the final bridge is fitted over the teeth. The total treatment time is usually between three to four weeks, depending on the type of bridge. However, because it is often challenging to match the natural shade of your teeth, the treatment time may be longer. In difficult cases, we may begin with diagnostic impressions for study models and/or custom temporaries (which you will wear while the bridge is being fabricated).
With a bridge, it is more important than ever to brush, floss and see your dentist regularly. If you do not control the buildup of food debris and plaque (the sticky film of bacteria formed from food acids) your teeth and gums can become infected, requiring further treatment and resulting in possible loss of the bridge. We also recommend using floss-threaders that help remove bacteria from hard to reach spaces between the bridge and adjacent teeth and gums. If you maintain optimal oral hygiene care and regular check-ups, you can expect your fixed bridge to last as many as 10-15 years, or even longer.