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Medical Devices

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges literally bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth.

A typical bridge consists of two crowns (one on each side of the gap created by missing tooth/teeth) and a false tooth/teeth (that fill in the gap and is attached to the crowns). These two crowned ‘anchoring teeth’ are called abutment teeth .These supporting teeth can be natural teeth or dental implants. The false tooth/teeth in between the anchoring teeth are called pontics. Bridges can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials.

What are the benefits of dental bridges?

Bridges
  • Restore your smile
  • Restore your ability to properly chew and speak
  • Maintain the shape of your face
  • Distribute the forces in your bite properly by replacing missing teeth
  • Prevent remaining teeth from shifting out of position

What types of dental bridges are available?

There are three main types of bridges:

  • Traditional fixed bridges consist of two or more crowns and a filler tooth/teeth. The filler tooth/teeth are attached to one or more crowns. The crowns keep the bridge in place. Traditional bridges are the most common type of bridge and are made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics.
  • Cantilever bridges are used when there are teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth (there are no teeth next to the other side of the missing tooth/teeth.
  • Maryland bonded bridges (also called a resin-bonded bridge or a Maryland bridge) are made of porcelain fused to metal teeth supported by a metal framework. Metal wings on each side of the bridge are bonded to your existing teeth. This type of bridge is commonly used to replace front teeth.

What are the steps for creating a dental bridge?

During the first visit, the abutment teeth are prepared. This involves re-shaping these teeth by removing a portion of enamel and dentin to allow room for a crown to be placed over them. Next, impressions of your teeth are made. These impressions serve as a model from which the bridge, false tooth/teeth, and crowns will be made by a dental laboratory. Your dentist will make a temporary bridge for you to wear to protect the exposed teeth while your bridge is being made.

During the second visit, your temporary bridge will be removed and the new permanent bridge will be checked and adjusted, as necessary, to achieve a proper fit. Multiple visits may be needed to check the fit of the metal framework and bite of your teeth. If the dental bridge is a fixed (permanent) bridge, your dentist may temporarily cement it in place for a couple of weeks to make sure it is fitting properly. After a couple weeks, the bridge is permanently cemented into place.

How much do dental bridges cost?

The cost of dental bridges varies depending on the type of bridge used and the area of the country where the procedure is performed. Dental insurance will typically pay a percentage of the fee depending on the individual dental plan.

How long do dental bridges last?

Dental bridges can last 5 to 7 years and even longer. With good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning, it is not unusual for the life span of a fixed bridge to be over 10 years.

Will it be difficult to eat with a dental bridge?

Replacing missing teeth should actually make eating easier. Until you become used to the bridge, eat soft foods that have been cut into small pieces.

Will the dental bridge change how I speak?

It can be difficult to speak clearly when teeth are missing in the front area of the mouth. Wearing a dental bridge with the front teeth in proper position will help you speak more clearly.

How do I care for my bridges?

It is important to keep your remaining teeth healthy and strong as the success of the bridge depends on the solid foundation of the surrounding teeth. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease that can lead to tooth loss. Your dentist or dental hygienist can demonstrate how to properly brush and floss your teeth. Keeping a regular professional cleaning schedule will help find dental problems early when treatment can be more successful. Eating a balanced diet (more fruits, vegetables and fiber than meats) is important for general body health and oral health.

References

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 10/11/2012...#10921