What is a dental bridge?
In dentistry a ‘bridge‘ is a series of dental crowns joined together and fixed onto your natural teeth or onto dental implants.
A Dental bridge is often used to fill a gap caused by a missing tooth or teeth and can be used to fill a single tooth gap or multiple gaps.
There are several different types of bridges and several different materials used to make bridges.
Bridges are often described in the number of units involved, that is the number of teeth on the bridge.
For example a 3-unit bridge would be used to replace 1 tooth, where the 2 teeth either side of the
gap would hold the ‘false’ tooth in the middle. Then there would be 3 teeth in a row with no gaps.
A ‘large span’ bridge can be many units long and fill multiple gaps and you can also get ‘full arch’ bridges
where the bridge covers all the teeth in your upper or lower arch.
What happens when you get a bridge?
Preparing your teeth for a bridge is similar to preparing your teeth for a crown. Each tooth has to be shaped and each tooth has to be parallel to the next to allow the bridge to be seated. Once this has been done impressions will be
taken to send to the lab technician and a temporary bridge will be fitted. Around 2 weeks later your bridge will be ready and your dentist will remove the temporary bridge and fit your permanent bridge. The shade will be checked to
make sure it blends on with any natural teeth still present and the ‘bite’ will be checked to make sure it fits in with your natural bite. Sometimes adjustments are necessary.
What material is used to make a bridge?
Most bridges are made out of bonded ceramic material. That is a metallic core with ceramic bonded on top. This is very strong and durable and looks natural.
All-ceramic bridges have very good aesthetics and no metal work underneath they are great for bridges on your front teeth but not suited to a bridge span of over 42mm which is roughly the length of the upper 4 front teeth.
Full arch bridges If someone has many missing teeth a ‘full arch bridge’ may be the best kind of bridge. A full arch bridge covers all the teeth in one arch i.e. all the upper teeth or all the lower teeth. With this kind of bridge it is possible to change the overall appearance of the teeth for instance when the remaining teeth are very worn down and discoloured.
A full arch bridge can rebuild a ‘collapsed occlusion’ where due to the missing teeth the next door and opposite teeth have tilted or overgrown into the spaces leaving a mouthful of teeth that you can’t chew properly with and that also
This type of bridge can last for many years and can sometimes outlive the existing teeth! That is, if one of the teeth holding the bridge starts to decay or otherwise needs to be removed, the bridge will be strong enough without it and being retained by the remaining teeth.
Dental implant retained bridges.
If there are not enough teeth to build a bridge on, a dental implant can be placed to provide the necessary strength for the bridge. In fact if you have no teeth at all a bridge can still be constructed entirely on dental implants. In this way someone who has been using false teeth or full dentures can replace them with a permanent bridge that doesn’t come out and feels and looks just like natural teeth.
What are advantages of a bridge?
Gaps in your teeth can lead to the surrounding teeth tilting and growing into the spaces. This leaves crooked teeth and difficulty chewing. A bridge can stabilise the teeth and restore an even row of teeth which functions and looks better.
If someone has missing teeth one of the solutions is to use a removable denture. Unfortunately this has many disadvantages such as becoming loose, damaging the gums and trapping food. A bridge replaces this and removes all of these problems as well as feeling like your own natural teeth.
All in all a bridge is a wonderful investment for your oral health. It is easy to lookafter and can help stabilise your remaining teeth and many people love thefeeling of ‘having my own teeth back’ after replacing a removable denture with a permanent fixed bridge.
If you would like more information about bridges or would like to explore the
option of getting a dental bridge yourself, contact our friendly team by phone or