Dental bridges are used to replace missing teeth (usually more than one, in which case a dental implant would suffice). The name is derived from the style of the artificial appliance, which is attached to a tooth on either side of the missing teeth, forming a bridge between the two, filled with artificial teeth. For example, if you lost your four front teeth you could have a bridge fitted which attached to your molars, with four artificial teeth in the middle.
The way in which dental bridges are attached to the supporting teeth can vary. One type of bridge is known as a fixed bridge, and this uses crowns at either end of the bridge which are fixed onto the supporting teeth. This is cemented firmly into place and cannot be removed for cleaning – it is however, a very firm fix that is not likely to move or become loose (often a big problem for denture wearers). The second type of bridge is known as an adhesive bridge. This features wings which are fixed to the back of the supporting teeth – this is a method that has very little drilling involved and is often chosen by those who are anxious about dental procedures.
Because dental bridges are supported by the surrounding teeth, these must be healthy and strong and able to take the strain of the bridge. In addition, the gum and bone structure that holds these supporting teeth in place must also be strong to ensure that they will not become weakened by the addition of a bridge. Your dentist will be able to check this when you go for a dental bridge – you should have consultancy appointments first to discuss the procedure and this is when your general oral health will be checked. If there are any issues then your dentist will be able to discuss these thoroughly with you so that you can come to an informed decision.
Dental bridges can be a great way to get a natural looking smile back, and they are generally made from porcelain that is with a precious metal. Porcelain is the top choice for false teeth, as it looks identical to real teeth, and can be coloured to match. This is particularly important if your bridge will be visible sitting next to existing teeth – if it is on the front top or bottom of your teeth, for example. Porcelain will blend in very well and give you back your lovely smile!
Dental bridges do need to be cared for and kept clean – this can be done during regular brushing with special floss or a bridge needle (a regular toothbrush will not be able to reach under the bridge). Your dentist will be able to explain this process to you and demonstrate how to clean your bridge properly. When dental bridges are carefully looked after, they can last a very long time and help in numerous ways, such as eating, speaking, and giving you back your old self confidence in no time!