A bridge, or partial denture, is a device that attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth—replacing missing teeth. Bridges are either permanently attached (fixed bridges), or they can be removable.
Your teeth work together for many daily functions from eating to speaking—so it’s important to replace missing teeth. At Now Care Dental, our experienced dentists can recommend the best bridge option for you that will restore both your dental health and appearance.
The tooth crowns we place usually last for 20 to 30 years—as permanent as dental treatment can be. Other advantages of a dental crown include:
There are multiple reasons for replacing missing teeth with a dental bridge or partial denture—with dental health being the most important reason for a bridge. Unusual stresses are placed on the gums and other oral tissues when teeth are missing, causing a number of potentially harmful disorders.
Missing teeth can also lead to an increased risk of gum disease and speech disorders, which can be minimized with a bridge. A bridge can help support your lips and cheeks, and keep your mouth from sinking due to the loss of a back tooth.
Fixed bridges, which offer the most stability, are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dental professional. A removable partial denture or dental bridge can be taken out and cleaned.
Fixed bridges are applied by either placing crowns or bonding the artificial teeth to the adjacent natural teeth. Removable bridges and partial dentures are attached to the teeth with metal clasps or by precision attachments.
The attachment procedure usually takes two or three appointments to complete. At the first appointment we’ll prepare the surrounding teeth and take impressions of your teeth, which are sent to a lab where the bridge will be constructed.
For a temporary fix, our dentists can place a dental flipper, which is a lightweight and removable denture that can fill your tooth gap while your dental bridge is being prepared.
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 the most natural choice to fill the space in your mouth left by missing teeth. If left unfilled, this space can cause the surrounding teeth to drift out of position and can cause teeth and gums to become more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease, causing further tooth loss. Bridges not only correct an altered bite and 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.
Besides traditional bridges, another popular design is the resin bonded or "Maryland" bridge, primarily used for the front teeth. This is usually the most economical choice when the abutment teeth are healthy and don’t contain large fillings. The replacement tooth is fused to metal bands that can be bonded to the abutment teeth with a resin cement and hidden from view, reducing the amount of preparation on the adjacent teeth.
A cantilever bridge may be used if there are teeth on only one side of the span. This involves anchoring the false tooth to one side over one or more natural, adjacent teeth. If there are no adjacent teeth to act as anchors, we may recommend an implant–a metal post that is surgically embedded into the bone and capped with a crown as an abutment. In some cases where the span is large, we may recommend a removable partial denture or even an implant-supported prosthesis.
For a traditional fixed bridge, the first appointment consists of reducing the adjacent abutment teeth that will act as anchors. Impressions are made, from which a metal framework, including the replacement tooth, is created. By the second appointment, the final bridge is fitted over the teeth.
The total treatment time is usually between two or four weeks, depending on the type of bridge.
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. You may also use 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, you can expect your fixed bridge to last as many as 8 to 10 years, or even longer.