What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is a false tooth that is used to fill the gap. Unlike traditional removable dentures, a dental bridge is permanent and is anchored to the teeth at one, or both, sides using metal bands held in place by resin or cement.
Losing a tooth through an accident or injury or as a result of decay can be very traumatic. It can affect the way you look and the way you speak, as well as compromising your ability to chew. Furthermore, the gap left by the missing tooth can strain the teeth on either side causing them to lean into the gap, trapping food debris and causing further decay.
To improve appearance and function, and to prevent further damage, your dentist may recommend a dental bridge to fill the gap.
A bridge can be treated like natural teeth in terms of chewing and eating.
If well cared for, a dental bridge should last for 10 to 15 years.
How your bridge is fitted
It will usually take two visits to your dentist to have a bridge fitted and adjusted correctly. On your first visit preparatory work will be done, shaping the teeth for the bridge to fit on to. Your dentist will then take a mould of your teeth which will be sent to the laboratory for the dental technician to make the bridge. On your next visit, your bridge will be fitted and adjusted to ensure a correct bite. If you are happy with the way the bridge fits and looks your bridge will be fixed in place. If at this stage the shade or fit of the bridge are not correct it can be sent back to the laboratory for any necessary adjustments to be made before it is fixed in place permanently.
Caring for a dental bridge
It is very important to clean under and around the bridge so that the teeth supporting the bridge remain healthy. Even the best fitting bridge will still have gaps around and beneath it, and these can quickly accumulate damaging debris if you do not follow a strict hygiene regime. You should pay particular attention to the false tooth that forms the bridge, cleaning and flossing regularly. Extra care should also be given to the supporting teeth either side of the bridge, as without these, the bridge will fail.
There are many dental products available to assist in cleaning the awkward areas around a bridge, and your dentist or hygienist will be happy to demonstrate these for you.
Alternatives to a dental bridge
The alternatives to a dental bridge are dentures or implants. Some people find single tooth dentures uncomfortable and awkward. Dental implants involve having a false tooth fixed to a titanium post that has been screwed into the jawbone.
Although this can be a very successful means of replacing a lost tooth, it is a lot more expensive and involves a surgical procedure. Not everybody is suitable to have a dental implant and this is something that your dentist will consider when planning your treatment.